The Oklahoma City Thunder returned to Staples Center for the 2nd night in a row for a Western Conference showdown against the Los Angeles Clippers. Russell Westbrook notched his 13th triple double of the season, Paul George scored 31 points, and Carmelo Anthony added 22 as the Thunder defeated the Clippers 127-117. The victory snapped the Clippers four game winning streak.
The Clippers got off a to a hot start, hitting 6 of their first 7 shots as the Thunder once again struggled defensively out the gate. The Clippers inside duo of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin dominated the paint, taking advantage of Thunder switches. Jordan had many open opportunities for layups and the Thunder did not take advantage of his poor free throw shooting.
The Thunder settled into the game and got right back into it by the attacking the paint. Carmelo Anthony, who has averaged almost 19 pts/gm in the Thunders last 8 outings, remained hot and scored 10 of OKC’s 30 opening quarter points. Melo’s contribution helped the Thunder stay close and only trailing by three at the end of the first frame.
The Thunder still could not keep the Clippers out of the paint as the second quarter began. The Clippers' second unit led by Juwan Evans, Sam Dekker, and Montrezl Harrell executed their offense extremely well. They went right at the Thunder defense, continuing to get the ball in the paint. The Thunder defense allowed too many points in the paint and second chance points.
Two straight layups from Harrell capped a 10-0 Clippers run that made the score 50-37. The Thunder responded with improved defense and capitalized on transition opportunities. They also got hot from beyond the arc as the quarter winded down. Paul George hit two from downtown, Terrance Ferguson hit two and Russ hit one in the second. The Thunder and Clippers were tied at 64 at the half.
In the third quarter, the Thunder seemed to make an adjustment and did a better job defending the paint. They forced many stepback jumpers and were able to get out in transition for easy baskets. A three from Ferguson gave the Thunder an 82-74 lead, but this version of the Thunder’s defense was short-lived. The Clippers went back and pounded the ball inside. Jordan was a force inside and also made the Thunder pay from the free throw line. Jordan's efficiency fueled a late 16-6 run at the end of the quarter to give the Clippers a 97-94 lead going into the fourth.
The Thunder opened the fourth quarter with 12 unanswered points to give them a 106-97 lead. The offensive execution from the Thunder was outstanding and the ball movement was beautiful to watch. They were able to get absolutely anything they wanted and they showed how difficult they can be to defend. Westbrook was getting to the rim at will, Melo and PG were automatic from distance, and Steven Adams was there to clean up any misses. The Thunder outscored the Clippers 31-20 in the fourth and took the W.
The Thunder shot 54% from the field and put in a franchise-best 15 threes. They also had 23 assists against 14 turnovers on the night. The Thunder offense was clicking on all cylinders scoring 30+ points in each quarter of the game.
Westbrook recorded another triple double with 29 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. George scored 31 points on a very efficient 12 of 16 shooting, including 5 of 8 from downtown. Melo chipped in 22 points on an also very efficient 9 of 12 shooting. Adams had 12 and Ferguson put in 11. Felton also scored 12 points off the bench.
Jordan led the Clippers with 26 points and 17 rebounds. Lou Williams also put in 26 points and Griffin scored 24 points with 9 rebounds and 7 assists.
The Thunder will look to close out the current road trip on a high note in Phoenix against the Suns.