The Thunder were the last team to beat the Clippers in 2016, but they failed to be the first team to beat the Clippers in 2017 as the Clippers win this one comfortably, 120-98.
The Thunder were coming off a win last night in Sacramento, and you could definitely tell they played the night before. They were sloppy on both sides of the ball, shot poorly and just looked like they weren’t ready to play. Steven Adams sat this one out with a concussion and his defensive presence was badly missed as the Clippers scored 62 points in the paint. Over 20 points above their season average of 39.1 points in the paint per game.
Along with being able to score inside at will, they also completely controlled the boards 47 to 36. Deandre Jordan had a field day with Adams sidelined for this one. He finished with 19 points to go along with 15 rebounds and 4 blocks and was a +21 on the night.
Chris Paul left the game in the second quarter with a sprained thumb and he would not return. But, it really didn’t matter as the Clippers already had a solid lead and Ray Felton played very well in Paul’s absence… yes, I said Ray Felton played very well. He had 15 points (he averages 7) and 6 assists.
To go along with poor interior defense and getting beat on the glass, the Thunder didn’t shoot well throughout the night. They were 42.4% from the field and 33.3% from 3. They shot 30 times from downtown, which is about 4 more than their season average. That’s a lot of 3s. I understand that you can’t make them if you don’t take them, but that’s a lot of missed 3s. On the other end of the floor, the Clippers shot lights out. 54.9% from the field and 42.9% from 3. The Thunder were slow to close out on the Clippers shooters and J.J. Redick did his thing, making tough shots all night. He finished with 20 on 5-10 from deep.
In addition to poor shooting, the half-court offense was stagnant at times. There was ball movement early, but it died down and the Thunder only finished with 18 assists. Russ accounted for 4 of those, which is 6 below his season average. If you aren’t hitting your shots, and you aren’t moving the ball around… I don’t really know how you expect to score, and that was the Thunder’s main issue tonight.
The Thunder’s only production tonight came from Russ (24), Lauvernge (13) and Kanter (12). Outside of that the Thunder didn’t get much scoring help. For the Clippers, Jordan, Redick and Felton also got help from Mo Speights, the Thunder Killer, who put up 23 and Austin Rivers who had 16.
Playing the Clippers on the second night of a back-to-back is a tough game, and one I didn’t expect the Thunder to win, but I also didn’t expect them to get dominated… especially with Paul out the entire second half.
- With Adams out, the Thunder went small, starting Jerami Grant in his place. Grant started off the game with two straight makes from distance.
- Sabonis got the task of starting on Deandre Jordan and got in heavy foul trouble early on. Putting Jordan on the free throw line is smart, especially when he’s shooting airballs, but it’s tough to see Sabonis have to come out early due to foul trouble.
- Defending the perimeter did not go well for the Thunder tonight. It can’t all be blamed on rotations and close outs though because the Clippers were making some tough shots.
- This was a fun play early on. Great ball movement and it got me excited, but it was pretty much all downhill from there.
- Kanter and Lauvergne were doing a great job on the offensive boards early on, but no one was putting a body on Jordan. I know the dude is an absolute monster, but you can’t just let him get every rebound without putting a body on him and not trying to at least make it difficult.
- Abrines looked incredibly slow on defense tonight. I’m not saying he normally looks fast, but it was bad tonight. Felton and Anderson both blew by him for scores.
- Morrow getting some minutes for the first time in a while. He hadn’t played in four games.
- I hate Mo Speights. He always shows up against the Thunder.
- Oladipo was no where to be found in the first half. Going 0-7 and not really making any plays on the defensive side. He got going a little bit in at the beginning of the second half, but then disappeared again.
- Kevin Harlan mentioned on the broadcast that he Victor had 9 stiches in his tongue tonight and was unable to speak.
- Then this happened…
- Kanter started the second half in place of Sabonis, but the Thunder still couldn’t get anything going on offense.
- The Thunder were unable to stifle the Clippers dribble penetration, first Paul, then Felton, and Rivers. This allowed the Clippers to get into the paint and either look to score or dish to a big man.
- Russ played a decent game overall. 2-7 from 3 isn’t great, but the real problem was he just wasn’t able to get anyone involved. That’s not just on him, guys have to make shots, but he’s usually looking to get his teammates going early on and it just wasn’t happening tonight.
- Kyle Singler line – 7 minutes, 2 points, 1 rebound
Next Up: Wednesday… at Golden State… 9:30 CST.