POSTGAME REPORT: THUNDER 117, CLIPPERS 111 (OT) - 11/21/12
OKLAHOMA CITY – Chris Paul had a chance.
After the Clippers snuck back from a nine-point fourth quarter deficit Wednesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Paul got a shot to win the game. But his turnaround jumper from the left elbow over Russell Westbrook went awry and the Thunder took control in overtime to outlast the Clippers, 117-111, snapping L.A.’s six-game winning streak.
“We should have won that game,” Paul said. “We know it. They know it. I think the frustrating part is we had an opportunity to win it. Regardless of what anybody says, it’s going to be hard for us to win a game if I play that bad. It’s tough because you work so hard and you know there are going to be nights like that.”
Paul made just two of his 14 field goals and missed two shots down the stretch in regulation that could have tilted the game. Still, the Clippers (8-3) were nearly able to overcome a 34-for-39 free throw parade and 11 3-pointers from Oklahoma City (9-3) and the absence of starting small forward Caron Butler, who missed the game with a strained right shoulder.
“We can play better that’s the exciting thing about it and we know that and we need to,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said.
Blake Griffin said, “We played poorly.” And later added, “We have a tough squad and we’re a squad that never gives up and that’s promising.”
In overtime Westbrook and Kevin Durant made 3-pointers on two of the first five Thunder possessions and after a turnover by Paul was sandwiched by 3-point misses by Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes, Westbrook nailed a tough leaner on the left baseline and Oklahoma City salted the game away at the free throw line.
Serge Ibaka. The league’s best shot blocker showed versatility as offensive threat as well. He had 15 points, including a baseline jumper from a step in front of the 3-point line late in the game and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the first half.
Paul got Kendrick Perkins to switch out onto him in the waning seconds of the first half and after dribbling down the shot clock, launched a 3-pointer over the Thunder big man. The shot went awry and Ibaka banked in a 3-pointer on the other end as time expired. Ibaka’s basket gave the Thunder a 10-point lead at the half and answered a four-point possession from the Clippers 30 seconds earlier.
In addition to his shooting proficiency (5-for-9) he collected 12 rebounds and was shot-blocking threat in the lane, finishing with three blocks and a number of contested plays at the rim.
Paul’s miss that sent the game to overtime.
Matt Barnes. In relief of Butler, Barnes did just about everything that could be asked of him. He scored 19 points with nine rebounds and four steals before fouling out in overtime. He also battled Durant throughout the night.
After the game he talked about what the objective is when defending the three-time scoring champion. “Make him earn it,” Barnes said. “He shot 21 free throws, which is tough; 19-of-21, that’s a little hard to swallow. With a great player like him you want to be physical, but they weren’t letting us be too physical tonight. He’s a great player and he carried his team like he’s supposed to.
Durant. The superstar scored a game-high 35 points and while he was held to 7-for-19 from the floor he got to the foul line 21 times, including four makes in the final 52.4 seconds of overtime. He also had six rebounds, five assists, five steals and six turnovers.
Griffin. In his only regular season game in Oklahoma City this season, Griffin returned to his hometown to score a team-high 23 points with six rebounds and three steals. He made 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to help the Clippers come back in regulation. However, Griffin was relegated to the bench for the final 7:04 of the third quarter with four fouls.
DeAndre Jordan. He showed as much poise and growth as any time in his career en route to 12 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot. Jordan scored five points in overtime including a step-through layup that drew the sixth foul on Ibaka. More importantly, Jordan converted the free throw that followed. Overall, he was 4-for-6 from the foul line (3-for-4 when Thunder head coach Scott Brooks employed the intentional foul strategy twice in the last half of the fourth quarter).
“It was a great play for us,” Jordan said of his 3-point play in overtime. “It was not only an and-one, but Serge had five fouls and that gave him six. It was big for us to have that shot-blocking presence out of the game.”
Hot: Kevin Martin. The Thunder’s top bench scorer had 20 points off the bench and did it in just 10 shots, going 6-for-10 from the field and 5-for-5 from the charity stripe. He also made a pair of timely baskets that curtailed Clipper runs, none more vital than a dunk on a run-out after Griffin was stripped on his way to the rim with a chance to cut L.A.’s deficit from four to two.
Not: Paul. The superstar had nine points and nine assists, but shot just 2-for-14 from the field and committed four turnovers.
“I couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean,” Paul lamented. “I took a couple of bad shots, a few shots. We were down three [and] I missed a layup that would have put us down one. They came down and got an and-one. There were untimely mistakes, untimely misses. I went baseline looking for Jamal and threw it to Blake, turnover.”
Jordan: “Chris got a great look. We’d live and die off that shot. We fought but we definitely made some mistakes tonight and they made more plays than us down the stretch.”
Barnes: “Great shot. That’s our best player. Down the stretch, even though he didn’t shoot the ball that much tonight, he’s the one we want taking that shot. He got a clean look off Westbrook and missed, but we’d take that shot every night from him.”
Scott Brooks: “Chris Paul is one of the best at finding a great shot in the last six seconds of the shot clock. He just has that knack. He can do it himself or he can find an open big underneath the basket or an open 3-point shooter on the wing. I thought we did a good job.”
Hasheem Thabeet: “Just get out and get there first. That’s what we talked about doing harder before we went out. We served up all the plays and we said ‘we’re going to go out there and we’re going to play harder,’ and we did. We went out there and competed and props to my teammates.”
Del Negro: “He had to [play a lot of minutes], we’re a little there without Caron [Butler]. Matt rebounding the ball, guarded Kevin the whole time about as well as you can, he got to the line a lot.”
Notes: Lamar Odom had a season-high eight rebounds. It is the first time since April 13, 2011 he had as many as eight in a game… The Clippers had 17 offensive rebounds. It’s the second game in a row they have collected 17 or more boards on that end of the floor… Crawford scored 20 points for the seventh time this season. He is leading the Clippers and all bench players in the NBA with 19.7 points per game… Westbrook was whistled for a technical foul in the second quarter for arguing with an official. He had 23 points and nine assists in the game… Thabeet scored 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting… The Clippers entered the game with a 3-0 road record for the second time in franchise history. They have never been 4-0 on the road to start a season.