Basketball / Sports

Clippers missing help in loss to Thunder

LOS ANGELES -- It was going to come down to the superstars, as most big games do, and the Thunder's were just better.

League MVP Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook hit monster shots in the final 2 minutes to beat the Clippers 118-112, taking back homecourt advantage in the series.

Westbrook drained a 3 from the top of the key, barking at Chris Paul with a devilish grin after sticking the huge shot.

Then after Paul missed a tightly contested 3, it was Durant's turn, as he spun and drained a jumper with a hand right in his face.

The two plays turned a one-point game into a six-point one.

"Down the stretch, they made every big play," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "Every shot that they needed went in."

The Clippers' stars, Paul and Blake Griffin, did what they could to keep things close.

Griffin scored 34 points and Paul added 21 to go with 16 assists and no turnovers. But J.J. Redick and Darren Collison combined to miss their first nine shots before Redick hit a meaningless 3. Jamal Crawford scored 20 off the bench, but he needed 18 shots.

Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka added 20 points, hitting 9-of-10 from the field on mostly uncontested jumpers.

Durant led all scorers with 36 points, as Oklahoma City shot 55.7 percent on the night.

"We got blitzed," Rivers said.

Rivers questioned his team's response to the Thunder's physicality after a Game 2 loss, and things didn't ease up Friday.

Bodies were thrown all over the floor, and Griffin got busted open after colliding with Ibaka's elbow � with no whistle from the officials.

The Clippers were on the right end of a couple key calls late in the third quarter.

First, Paul got three free throws after a Reggie Jackson foul on 3-point shot. Jackson was also given a technical for complaining. Then, with the quarter about to end, Crawford was fouled by Durant on a half-court buzzer-beater.

The Clippers made six of the seven free throws in the final 30 seconds of the third to take a four-point lead into the fourth.

But two Caron Butler 3's put Thunder quickly back on top, and Oklahoma City was able to hold on to win their second in a row.


J.J. Redick's hot start in Game 2 fit the scouting report on him.

When he's been healthy, the Clippers have looked to the sharpshooting guard to get their offense going.

Redick scored 10 quick points Wednesday and six more in the second quarter, but, then it stopped. He scored only two points in the final 24 minutes, helping the Thunder tie the series at 1-1.

Doc Rivers insisted before Game 3 on Friday the Clippers didn't stop looking Redick's way in the second half.

"He missed some wide open shots, really. But, there is another team � I swear � over there," Rivers said. "After he makes four or five shots, they'll call a timeout and say, 'I think we need to take J.J. out.'"

Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said slowing down Redick early would be a key in defending the Clippers.

"He always seems to have good first quarters," Brooks said. "They look for him early. That's been their personality."

Going to Redick, one of the league's top first quarter scorers, makes sense for the Clippers offense.

Redick's constant motion forces defenses to pay plenty of attention, opening up space for Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan on the blocks.

"It's opens a lot. It usually means one of our bigs will be open," Rivers said pregame Friday. "It's hard to adjust to J.J., but if there is, it's a trap. And if there's a trap, then J.J.'s great at just swinging the ball."

The Clippers weren't able to find Redick for much in the first quarter, or beyond, Friday. He had two first-quarter free throws, and his lone field goal came on a three-pointer with four seconds to play.

Still, the offense hummed in the first, at least in part, because Redick demands so much attention.

"What's great about him is he never presses. If he's covered because they're worried about him, he's not going to force it," Rivers said pregame. "He'll go a whole game without taking a shot, but he's creating shots for us.

"That's what a good team player does."


The Clippers haven't been able to keep teams off the glass all season, allowing the second-most offensive rebounds in the league. And through three games so far in Round 2, the problem hasn't been corrected.

After outrebounding the Clippers in the first two games, Oklahoma City was already plus eight in that category by halftime.

While the Clippers have the taller and more athletic frontcourt, Oklahoma City has gotten boards from their point guard.

Russell Westbrook averaged 5.7 rebounds a game during the season, but against the Clippers in the postseason, he's been a major factor on the boards.

After four rebounds in Game 1, Westbrook pulled down 10 in Game 2, including six on the offensive glass.

"Our guards have to rebound. Their guards destroyed us," Rivers said. "Our guards have to be more physical and rebounding in this series. Westbrook, if he's not the best than I don't know who is better at the point guard position at rebounding than him."

Westbrook had five rebounds in the first half Friday, but only one came on the offensive glass.


A hard foul in Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors could keep Hedo Turkoglu out for the entire second round.

Turkoglu suffered three small hairline fractures just off his lower spine. He's classified as day to day, though Rivers isn't optimistic about his future this series.

"He put gym shorts on today, so that's progress. And I'm serious about that. It's the first time he's been able to do anything," Rivers said. "I don't know. It doesn't look good, to be honest, and he would be good for us in this series because they do go small. But, I don't see it.

"You never know."


Before the game, Jamal Crawford was honored for winning the NBA's Sixth Man award, showing the trophy off to a standing ovation from the home crowd. ... The Clippers and Thunder drew a pair of double technicals. First, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul both were whistled after some jawing in the first half. Then in the third quarter, Kendrick Perkins and Matt Barnes were called for techs after Perkins' hard foul on Barnes.

(c)2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Visit The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services


blog comments powered by Disqus