The Oklahoma City Thunder earned a huge win over the Los Angeles Clippers at home, 121-113. In a key game for two teams jostling for playoff position — where a single loss could send you from home court advantage to almost out of it entirely — OKC’s defensive strategy, combined with solid bench play was the difference. The win gives the Thunder a season sweep over the Clips and damages their playoff outlook significantly.
The Clippers, on the 2nd night of a back-to-back after losing to the Houston Rockets yesterday, were seeking to regain their footing and started off strong. Taking an early lead, it wasn’t until OKC’s bench unit came on that the scales started to tip. Raymond Felton hit a big three at the 1st quarter buzzer to bring OKC within 3 points, and then led a 18-8 surge that gave OKC a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the game. Each time the Clips made a push in the pivotal 3rd quarter (aka ‘turd quarter’), OKC pushed them back. Carmelo Anthony and then Paul George each hit big threes in the 3rd to push a 2 point lead back to 5, and OKC held them off.
In the 4th, Terrance Ferguson shone bright, scoring 7 of his 12 points to help build some cushion. Yet with LA still hanging around, Russell Westbrook, who had struggled with his shot for much of the night, finished the 4th with 8 points and 2 assists to guide his team home. And it was the defense, led by Steven Adams and Corey Brewer, who snuffed out key Clipper possessions to help OKC hold on for the big win. It was a well-played game by both teams, and we can only hope that OKC maintains this energy and focus from here on out.
- Westbrook recorded his 4th triple-double in a row with 16 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds. It is his 22nd on the year and 101st of his career. And his 10th rebound came on...
- This massive Steven Adams block against honored foe DeAndre Jordan.
This was the last of Adams’ 6 huge blocks. As the game grew longer, Adams — who appeared gimpy early on — grew stronger, and finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds (10 offensive!) to go along with 3 steals.
- Speaking of steals, OKC had 17 of them, with Brewer grabbing 6 of them himself. Crazy enough, Brewer was the team’s high point scorer with 22, including 2-4 from 3-point range. friend of WTLC Jon Hamm would like to point out:
"Pulp Fiction" (1994) starring John Travolta as Sam Presti, Uma Thurman as the Thunder team, and Corey Brewer as the adrenaline shot pic.twitter.com/RhWbqSIKl9— Jon Hamm (@JonMHamm) March 17, 2018
- Paul George, a question mark coming into tonight, is slowly regaining his mojo. While his shooting is still a little off, he stuffed the box score - 19 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and a block. He is beginning to once again play off his fellow wing the way he did with Andre Roberson.
- Assists, you say? OKC had 30(!) of them. It helps that the Clips are not a good defensive team, but still.
- To top it all off, the Thunder bench, as noted above, is what really caused this game to pivot. Their cumulative stat line: 37 points (15-26 shooting), 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals, 3 blocks, and every single player finished with a positive +/-. We’ll end with this crazy alley-oop layup by Ferguson:
"You wanna talk about nifty?"— NBA (@NBA) March 17, 2018
Terrance Ferguson somehow! #ThunderUp pic.twitter.com/FA62pZ5UFd