Thunder Go Out With a Bang, Slaughter Clippers in Finale 126-85

That's how you want to see this team close out the season folks! The Thunder went into the Staples Center tonight and just dominated the Clippers from start to finish. Oklahoma City avoids the season sweep by the Clippers, and did so convincingly. Perhaps the Clippers had the draft lottery on their minds, or perhaps they didn't care anymore, either way, I'm glad it wasn't our team that was out there finishing the season on a terrible note. Seriously, a 41 point win, even against one of the leagues worst teams is a great note for this young Thunder team to go out on.

Perhaps motivated by their last chance to play this season, or perhaps their chance to show the orginization appreciation in their removal of the interim tag to Scott Brooks' title, either way, this Thunder team played great tonight in Scott Brooks first game as the Official Head Coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was signed to a multi-year deal earlier in the day so as to give the players confidence in the direction this team is headed as they all scatter for the offseason.

Six Thunder players finished in double digits scoring tonight, led by Durant who had a game high of 26 points. White, Collison, Green, Watson, and Westbrook all had between 14 and 19 points. Durant had 9 boards, 3 assists, and 4 steals to go with his point total, and D.J. White lead the way on the boards for the Thunder by grabbing 11. The team as a total also combined for a whopping 17 steals with all but 2 Thunder players getting in on the ball swiping action. Even Earl Watson had a good night, finishing with 16 points and 14 assists as he tries to impress other teams for what will likely be a draft day or pre-draft day trade.

With it being such a late tip, and the real world calling my name at 5am, I didn't get to stay up and watch it (DVR'd it though), so I can't really give much insight into exactly how this game went, but just from watching the highlights, reading the box score, and checking out some other recaps out there, it looks like the Thunder just dominated this game from start to finish putting on a show that was sure to put a smile on Thunder fans faces. Also, I've quoted the AP Game recap at the bottom to sum up the stuff that I'm not able to. Oh, and since the Grizzlies finished their season with a win, us adding one more to the win total, didn't hurt our lottery position, we're still sitting at 4th from the bottom.

...AND keep your bookmarks right here for coverage of the Thunder all summer long as we prepare for the draft and head into summer leagues. In the NBA, fans don't have to take an offseason if they don't want to, so stay tuned, more is to come.




LOS ANGELES (AP)—Eric Gordon sat in front of his locker dejected, both knees wrapped in ice, pondering the final loss in another awful season for the Los Angeles Clippers.

In the visitors’ locker room, the Oklahoma City Thunder were in much better spirits, having ended their season with a win, a popular head coach and a future that doesn’t look quite so bleak.

Kevin Durant had 26 points, Jeff Green added 19 and the Thunder gave their newly promoted coach Scott Brooks a win, dismantling the Clippers 126-85 on Wednesday night.

Oklahoma led by as many as 33 in the third quarter against the Clippers, who were booed throughout by the home fans.

The Thunder removed Brooks’ interim tag earlier in the day and wanted to bounce back from a 30-point loss to Portland. They played like a team that wanted a win before heading home for good. And the Clippers?

Maybe a lack of concentration or effort? “Easily,” Gordon said. “On transition baskets, we weren’t getting back. They were dunking the ball. It was almost like a video game - we weren’t playing hard.”

As for him?

“I come and play hard every game because you never know what kind of mind frame everyone else is in.”

Gordon had 22 to lead the Clippers, who stumbled to the finish line while losing nine of their last 10. Los Angeles finished the season 19-63, its eighth worst-record in franchise history.

“It was the icing on the cake as far as the season is concerned,” said Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy, who was ejected from the game after arguing a call in the third quarter. “At this point, everybody has to start going out and deciding what they’re going to do. We have to come back with heart, have a presence as far as work ethic. I was not satisfied with the effort tonight. Of course not. There were a number of plays that I can point to that showed either a lack of concentration or commitment as far as from a team standpoint.”

Brooks didn’t have much to complain about.

Oklahoma dominated Los Angeles on the boards 49-32 and penetrated the lanes. The Thunder went on a 16-4 run late in the third period to build an insurmountable lead and rookie Russell Westbrook had two highlight-reel dunks— one off an alley-oop pass and the other on a drive—to make it 90-57 with less than two minutes remaining.

“We needed this win, and our guys came out with lots of enthusiasm,” Brooks said. “It’s important that we continue to improve individually and as a team, and tonight they responded very positively.”

Durant, one of Brooks’ biggest supporters, was satisfied with the outing.

“We wanted to come out with a sense of urgency. We’re very excited to have him as our coach on a permanent basis and we just wanted to come out and play hard and get a win. This meant a lot to us,” Durant said.

Mike Taylor’s buzzer beating 52-footer to end the third quarter was just about the only play to elicit cheers from the crowd for the Clippers.

Los Angeles played poorly on defense and had 22 turnovers. Gordon, Taylor and Chris Kaman were the only players to score in double digits for the Clippers, the second-worst team in the NBA.

They were outscored 62-42 in the paint and the Thunder, who finished 2-7 in April, had 17 fast-break points.

Six players scored in double digits for Oklahoma.

The Thunder started both the first and second quarters on 6-0 runs and built a 21-point lead going into halftime. The Clippers had no answer for either Durant or Green. Both scored at will early on. Durant and Green combined for 28 points before the second half started and were catalysts in two separate runs for Oklahoma.

Clippers guard Baron Davis struggled with his shooting and was 1-for-5 in the first half. He finished with eight points.

Notes

Clippers F Zach Randolph missed the finale because of a mild concussion. … Durant graded himself as OK for the season even though he raised his average in both points (by five) and rebounds (plus-2.2). “I need to get better on defense and finding my teammates for open shots,” the second pick of the 2007 draft said. … The Clippers’ Al Thornton, notorious for munching on McDonald’s before games, said he will cut out all fast food and hire a chef to eat healthier in preparation for next season. Thornton has a torn tendon in his right shoulder and has not played the last five games.

 

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