Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Quick recap: the Thunder won their first game this season against a likely playoff opponent, defeating the Clippers in overtime, 117-111.
The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in overtime, winning 117-111. In a tight game all the way down to the wire, the Thunder managed to pull ahead on the strength of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, who scored all of the Thunder's points in the extra period.
Durant led all scorers with 35 points, 9 of which came in the overtime period. Durant also grabbed 6 rebounds, handed out 5 assists, and had 5 steals. Westbrook complimented Durant with 23 points of his own, including 3-5 from 3-point range while handing out 9 assists. The Thunder scoring was also greatly aided by Kevin Martin, who scored 20 points on 6-10 shooting.
The Clippers were led by Blake Griffin, who had 23 points and 6 rebounds, and Jamal Crawford, who scored 20 points off the bench. The Thunder held Chris Paul in check, limiting him to only 9 points on 2-14 shooting while forcing him into 4 turnovers.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
This game is likely the first time in this young season that can make Thunder fans think, "there might be something there." The Clippers came into the game on a huge wave of success, winning 6 games in a row while being at the top of the league in defense. They were playing outstanding basketball, so for the Thunder to finally put together a strong effort against a very good team is something worth note.
While it is only one game (and the Celtics are waiting right around the corner), it is a satisfying win because the Thunder needed to prove to themselves that they still have the ability to compete with the league's best.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder won?
The Thunder were able to exorcise some demons that still lingered from last season's loss to the Clippers, when OKC surrendered a 4th quarter lead to Chris Paul's surging Clippers. OKC led most of the way through this game and even almost all of the 4th quarter, only to see the Clippers catch them at the very end. Which is not to say that OKC completely eliminated some of the hiccups that cost them a win last year, but unlike that loss in this game OKC demonstrated a better resolve and plan of attack to give them just enough scoring to keep LA from overtaking them.
Once the OT period hit, Westbrook hit the first big shot and the Thunder never trailed.
What was a key statistic to understanding the game?
The Thunder once again held a good offensive team in check, holding the Clippers to only 43% shooting on the night. To be sure, LA still almost caught the Thunder by ending up with 14 extra shots at the rim, buoyed by 5 more offensive rebounds and 5 fewer turnovers, but in the end the Thunder's defense was barely good enough, but good enough it was.
The Thunder had a good plan of attack on the night in stopping the Clippers' point guards. Paul shot an abysmal 2-14 from the floor and was coerced into 4 turnovers on the night. His backup Eric Bledsoe was able to contribute 11 points, but he too committed 4 turnovers of his own.
The Clippers highly touted bench lived up to their acclaim, scoring 40 points on the night. The Thunder bench however may have surprised some people, scoring 38 points themselves. The bench scoring was led by Martin's 20 points, but Martin got help as well.
A special shoutout must go to Hasheem Thabeet, who stepped up in a big way by scoring 10 points off of 4-4 shooting and grabbing 4 rebounds in only 12 minutes of play. Perhaps the bar for Thabeet is still set extremely low and we should not expect double-digit scoring, but there is no question that Thabeet's confidence continues to grow. By performing so well against a top notch 2nd unit that the Clippers possess, his personal esteem should continue to rise.
What does this game mean to the Thunder tonight and going forward?
The Thunder showed that they are continuing to grow as a team and finally were able to pass a big challenge, albeit at home. This season is clearly going to be a number of hurdles in a way that last year was not. This reality might be a good thing however, because it will continue to keep OKC focused on the task at hand and better prepare them for the hard playoff road ahead.
|Final - 11.21.2012||1||2||3||4||OT 1||Total|
|Los Angeles Clippers||22||27||20||33||9||111|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||28||31||17||26||15||117|
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, 35 points, including 19-21 from the free throw line, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals
Thunder Down Under: Serge Ibaka, 15 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks
Thunder Blunder: Eric Maynor, 0 points on 0-3 shooting
Thunder Plunderer: Blake Griffin, 23 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block
Next game: @ the Boston Celtics on Friday, Nov. 23 at 6:30PM CDT
If you are looking for tickets to upcoming games, you can find Oklahoma City Thunder tickets here.