4 min read

Thunder outball the Clippers, 120-108


The Thunder did what they should’ve done a week ago. They not only beat the Clippers this time around, but they took a double-digit lead into the fourth quarter and not only held it, but extended it.

This felt like an exorcism of sorts, a venting to finally release the frustrations that have been hanging on for the last week. It’s not that the Thunder are completely fixed and right again, but they certainly put together an impressive 48 minutes. Mostly behind Russell Westbrook’s stupid good performance — 25 points, 11 rebounds and 20 assists. The first time a line like that has been seen since Magic Johnson in 1988. Informed of that, Westbrook said, “I was born in 1988…”

Kevin Durant explained Westbrook’s night thusly:

“NBA 2K,” Kevin Durant said. “On rookie.

“That’s unheard of,” Durant continued. “Words can’t even describe it. Because it looks so effortless and easy and smooth in the game, you don’t even know it’s going on. Then you look at the statsheet and he’s got 25, 20 and 11. That’s like…”

Durant couldn’t figure out what to say next, so he said, “I wish he had 30, 20 and 11, that would’ve been even better.” Yep, that would’ve been better. And what’s dumb is that it doesn’t seem entirely without reason. Westbrook exists in a world where a 30-20-20 game actually seems remotely possible. That feels like such a stupid thing to say, but you can picture it can’t you?

All of that aside — which by the way, Durant had 32-11-5, his seventh straight double-double and seventh consecutive game of at least 25-10-5, the longest since Larry Bird — the Thunder picked up a much-needed win. Not only in the sense they put a little more space between them and the Clippers, and now have the upper-hand in grabbing a potential tiebreaker against them, but they definitely looked renewed in the way they handled the final 12 minutes.

They entered the fourth up 93-83 and quickly built it to 15, then 19. The Clippers made a quick run with back-to-back 3s from J.J. Redick, eventually pulling it down to 12. But instead of a turnover-filled implosion, the Thunder executed offense and kept the Clippers at a distance. Durant hit a dagger wing 3. Westbrook picked up assists 19 and 20. And the Thunder finished.

This win doesn’t cleanse them of what happened the last few weeks. There’s still a strong feeling of would’ve and could’ve. They could be 47-17 with strong wins over the Pacers, Warriors and Clippers x2 carrying them right now. Instead, it’s 44-20, with a should-win on Friday against the Wolves leading into a big showdown with the Spurs on Saturday. If anything, they ship feels stabilized, the team back on solid ground. Which is considerable improvement from how things felt a week ago.


  • Billy Donovan picked up his second technical of the season. I was so surprised by it, I was sure it was Durant who got it. Donovan probably saw that was about to happen, so he jumped in before Durant could get hit with it.
  • If Donovan would’ve gotten ejected, who coaches the Thunder? Seriously though. I guess Anthony Grant?
  • A nice pregame moment with a tribute video to Aubrey McClendon and then a moment of silence for Demetrius Pinckney, Dion Waiters’ younger brother.
  • Chris Paul caught Durant with a shot in the junk late in the first half. Appeared to be entirely unintentional, but it considering the history Paul has with such things, that reputation is one that stays with you.
  • Clay Bennett sat next to an empty chair tonight. That’s of course the seat Aubrey McClendon typically occupied at games.
  • Westbrook made fun of Doc Rivers in third quarter, mock-complaining after a foul. It was good.
  • Pablo Prigioni is definitely No. 1 in my “NBA Players Who Don’t Look Like NBA Players” power rankings.
  • Cole Aldrich played his best game ever in Oklahoma City: 10 points and six rebounds in 15 minutes.
  • So, I’m not going to talk about the way the second unit played without Dion Waiters tonight, because that feels disrespectful. But… well… I’ll leave it at that.
  • Here’s one thing to note: Andre Roberson got 25 minutes and was especially good, on both ends. He scored 13 points on 6-7 shooting, and was as good as you can expect to be chasing Redick all over the place.
  • Despite the feel goods from this one, the Thunder still turned it over 16 times, with six coming from Durant and seven from Westbrook.
  • Kyle Singler, once again solid. He did nearly airball two two-footers, but he made up for it.
  • Kanter in 17 minutes: 14 points and seven rebounds. Dude is a machine.
  • Nazr Mohammed appearance!
  • The Thunder allowed only two offensive rebounds, which is a very good stat.
  • Cameron Payne cracked the rotation again briefly, and looked pretty rusty. He struggled staying in front of the ball and didn’t see it much offensively.
  • Anthony Morrow did the same, going just 1-5 from 3. When he finally got the one to go, he raised his arms as if to say, “finally.”
  • There used to be so much talk about Chris Paul and his supposed “pure” point guard ability and how he might fit better alongside Durant. I have never subscribed to that idea, so I took some pleasure out of watching Westbrook completely roast Paul tonight. And I’m sure Westbrook did too. I wrote about it more here, but what was on display was Westbrook’s fully realized evolutionary game in comparison to Paul’s very good, but very traditional one.

Next up: Home against the Wolves on Friday