Apr 17, 2012, 2:41 AM EDT
In the second half Monday night, Durant and Westbrook were a combined 1-for-13 shooting and the Clippers pulled away with an 18-4 run in the fourth quarter to win 92-77. The OKC loss combined with a Spurs win over Golden State moved the two teams into a tie for the top spot in the Western Conference.
Taken by themselves, the Clippers’ wins over the Thunder don’t mean much. And regular season results have limited relations to playoff success (remember, last regular season the Heat struggled against the Celtics and Bulls while the Lakers owned the Mavericks). But the Thunder have lost their last five games against playoff teams now. They are not right, which again does not spell playoff doom but it can make you hesitate.
I think we can take away a couple things from these games.
• Under pressure, the Thunder still have their offense desert them for stretches, in part because they turn the ball over too much (19 times this game). That cost them in the playoffs last year against Dallas, it will cost this year against teams that can make them pay. The Clippers stepped up their defense and in the second half OKC struggled, scoring just 25 points. The Thunder didn’t score the final 3:42 of this game. That was with Durant missing a shot in the lane guarded by Chris Paul. It was isolations and drive and kick, things the Clippers could defend.
The only reason the Thunder were close after three quarters was a monster game from Serge Ibaka, who had more baskets in the third quarter (five) than Durant and Westbrook did in the second half. Ibaka had 12 points in the third and seemed to be everywhere with rebounds and blocks.
• Last week Griffin told PBT in an interview that defense was key to the Clippers play of late. He’s right. The Clippers are starting to play more consistent defense and when they do they are a tough team to beat. What’s more, Gs leading that defensive charge — he is using his physicality on that end and it works. Also, the Clippers threw some zone at the Thunder and it slowed the visitors who were slow to recognize it. This was a nice change of pace defense for the Clips.
Griffin and Paul also are developing a better chemistry. The Clippers made a great little run using a pick-and-roll with Griffin and Paul at the top of the key — OKC tried a little bit of everything with Paul off the pick and nothing worked, but at this point they trapped him — and Paul slipped the bounce pass to a rolling Griffin. Each time Ibaka was there to greet him in the lane but other help would come as well from Kevin Durant. That left Nick Young wide open in the corner and he drained the three. Young was on fire for the night, scoring 19 points on 10 shots.
I’m not convinced that in a seven game series the Thunder do not prevail. The playoffs are their own animal. But the Thunder have had flaws exposed that they will fix or get ripped wide open in the post season.
And the Clippers are still a team on the rise that could climb up (they are one game back of the Lakers for the three seed). If they can put performances on defense like the second half of this game on consistently, watch out. There is a lot of talent on this side.
May 18, 2013, 9:30 AM EDT
The NBA has had a concussion policy in place for the past 18 months, and while all teams have been made aware of the details, they haven’t been publicly available until now. With the recent concussion that kept George Hill out of the Pacers’ Game 5 loss to the Knicks (and may sideline him even…
May 18, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT
To quote the great Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Nicole Muxo took a shot. The high school senior at Archbishop Coleman Carroll put a video on YouTube asking Dwyane Wade to be her date for her senior prom. Friday night, he showed up, reports NBCMiami.com. Muxo, who attends…
May 18, 2013, 2:51 AM EDT
Here is the reality of the NBA Draft Combine: It doesn’t matter that much. It’s one small piece of a big puzzle. This isn’t like the NFL draft where a good or bad combine can really move a guy on draft boards. The reason is pure numbers — in the NFL every year more than…
May 17, 2013, 10:45 PM EDT
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May 17, 2013, 9:33 PM EDT
Vinny Del Negro coached the Clippers to a franchise-best 56 regular season wins, yet he is a man without a contract for next season. It’s been widely assumed that the team would go in another direction after L.A. was bounced from the playoffs in the first round, especially after getting out to a two games…
May 17, 2013, 8:07 PM EDT
George Hill played 37 minutes in the Pacers’ Game 4 win over the Knicks, and led the team in scoring with a game-high 26 points. So when the news broke shortly before tip-off of Game 5 that he had been ruled out due to a concussion, the collective head-scratching of when this might have happened…
May 17, 2013, 7:41 PM EDT
In 2009, Greg Oden averaged 16.7 points, 12.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per 36 minutes. After injury, Oden finally looked like the No. 1 pick (at least when not compared to Kevin Durant), and people were getting excited. Of course, you know how the story ends. More injuries for Oden, who hasn’t played since. Well,…
May 17, 2013, 7:24 PM EDT
As my friends can attest, I’m not always the smoothest guy around. But even I know to make a little small talk before trying to score a number. Apparently, the Spurs just rushed to the point when they were set up with Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas. Jason Lloyd of Ohio.com: Thomas said teams asked him…
May 17, 2013, 6:53 PM EDT
Jerry Sloan is 71 years old. He’s a Hall of Famer. He spent 21 of his last 23 seasons coaching with either John Stockton or Deron Williams as his point guard. You think he wants to coach a team that’s hoping Brandon Jennings is its point guard next season? In the nicest terms possible –…
May 17, 2013, 6:19 PM EDT
It’s been a while since someone notable has weighed in on Derrick Rose’s decision not to return from his ACL injury this season, and I figured it his name would stay out of the headlines a little longer, considering the Bulls’ next game is in October. But Bradley Beal stepped up and filled the Rose-less…
May 17, 2013, 5:06 PM EDT
Phil Jackson has a book to sell — “11 Rings” out May 21 (so he doesn’t count the two as a player with the Knicks?) — so you’re going to see a lot of him in your media space ver the next few weeks. The man knows how to be a salesman. As part of…
May 17, 2013, 4:23 PM EDT
Harrison Barnes had a solid regular season, making the All-Rookie first team as a debatable choice for that honor. He started 81 games for the playoff-bound Warriors, but Barnes took a back seat to Stephen Curry, David Lee, Klay Thompson, Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry and, when healthy, Andrew Bogut. Again being the seventh banana on…
May 17, 2013, 4:14 PM EDT
Generally, the cure for plantar fasciitis is rest. As in stay off your foot for a while. Which really didn’t work for Joakim Noah in the playoffs. But now that the Bulls are eliminated there is a question about whether it is just rest and some treatment that he needs, or whether surgery is an…
May 17, 2013, 2:55 PM EDT
The puzzle pieces have changed, but the picture of the sailboat they form has not. Under Frank Vogel, the Pacers have relied heavily on their starters. Between them, George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert excel in all areas of the court, offensively and defensively, and really balance each other. But…
May 17, 2013, 2:28 PM EDT
It was a throwaway line Zach Randolph said himself after a physical game early in the season against the Thunder and Kendrick Perkins, “I don’t bluff.” My first thought when I heard it was “wish I was playing poker against him.” But the line caught on to describe the them, and it’s now the chorus…
May 17, 2013, 2:10 PM EDT
No big man is going to be battling in the paint with Roy Hibbert and the physical front line of the pacers and not get a little banged up. After the Knicks win in Game 5 center Tyson Chandler said his back and his knee were bothering him. But this isn’t the time of year…
May 17, 2013, 1:35 PM EDT
Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins is not under contract for next season. As much as the Brooklyn Nets would like to have a shot at Hollins, both sides expect he will come back to Memphis next season. Hollins talked about that on the Dan Patrick show Friday. He also talked about the San Antonio Spurs…
May 17, 2013, 1:07 PM EDT
Whatever happened with the sale of the Kings, one thing was a lock — big front office changes and a coaching change were on the way. Now that the deal is done and the Kings will be staying in Sacramento, don’t expect it to be long before you see changes — Geoff Petrie and Keith…
May 17, 2013, 12:30 PM EDT
There are not a lot of iconic shots unique to players in the NBA. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Skyhook comes to mind. So does Dirk Nowitzki and the one-legged fadeaway jumper — a shot that gets big time treatment in the latest NBA playoff ad. You’ll see a lot of this one on your television…
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