In a perceived mismatch between undefeated Western Conference rivals, the Oklahoma City Thunder silenced doubters with a resounding 85-83 road win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Russell Westbrook sealed a statement victory while adding an additional 35 points to his league-leading total.
No other Thunder player joined Westbrook in double-figure scoring. However, Enes Kanter (12 rebounds) and newly re-signed Steven Adams (11 rebounds) contributed heavily on the glass. As a team, Oklahoma City limited the surging Clippers to 39.1% shooting and 17 fourth-quarter points.
Chris Paul proffered a creditable all-around effort (15 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists). In a hard-fought defeat, Los Angeles received fourteen points apiece from Blake Griffin and Marreese Speights.
Oklahoma City opened strong, fashioning an early 19-12 advantage highlighted by efficient shooting. However, an undeterred Clippers' bench rose to the occasion. Red-hot reserve Marreese Speights led all scorers with seven first-quarter points. Spurred forth by Speights, Los Angeles' 12-5 run secured the opening frame 24-23.
In the second stanza, Russell Westbrook's frequent explosions to the rim kept Oklahoma City in the thick of things. The Thunder rode Westbrook's surge, and a 13-2 spurt, to a 49-41 halftime lead.
At intermission, Russell Westbrook topped all scorers with 16 points. Backcourt mate Victor Oladipo added nine. Furthermore, Oklahoma City's stifling defense suppressed Los Angeles' considerable firepower, holding the Clippers to just 38.7% shooting on their home floor. The All-NBA duo of Blake Griffin and Chris Paul combined for a meager seven first-half points on 2-of-11 shooting.
Reinvigorated, Los Angeles began the penultimate third-quarter on a 7-4 jolt to force a Billy Donovan timeout. Chris Paul netted six quick points to necessitate a strategic adjustment. Unfortunately, said adjustments were futile as Paul's supreme floor generalship brought the Clippers into the fourth with a slim one-point advantage.
As the final period began, OKC and Los Angeles willfully traded baskets, with neither team conceding ground to the other. In the end, however, Russell Westbrook's roaring virtuoso performance silenced Chris Paul's subtle brilliance. Paul finished just shy of a triple-double, while Westbrook netted 35 points amid another outstanding game-clenching effort.
There are only two undefeated teams remaining in the NBA: the Cleveland Cavaliers (4-0) and the Oklahoma City Thunder (4-0).— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) November 3, 2016
Through four contests, Westbrook's level of play has been nothing short of transcendent. The five-time All-Star is elevating his supporting cast while contributing the requisite eye-popping statistics to remain undefeated. A road victory over the Clippers is a solidifying achievement for an Oklahoma City iteration that since early July has been much maligned.
The Thunder's biggest test will come tonight, as an unstoppable Westbrook meets erstwhile teammate Kevin Durant at the Oracle.