Mar 3, 2013, 7:07 PM EDT
The Thunder and the Clippers are likely second round playoff opponents, should neither team be able to overtake the Spurs for the number one overall seed in the Western Conference. If it ends up happening, and if Sunday’s contest at Staples Center was any indication, we’d be in for a battle of epic proportions.
Oklahoma City led by as many as 19 points late in the third, before L.A. staged a furious comeback. Things were tight, physical, and chippy down the stretch, with a flagrant foul by Serge Ibaka on Blake Griffin — and its aftermath — among the deciding factors. In the end, the Thunder hung on for a thrilling 108-104 victory that snapped the Clippers’ four-game winning streak.
It was a sleepy first half for the Clippers, who started off slowly and trailed by as many as 16 points early. Chris Paul opened just 1-of-7 from the field, and the Thunder were getting whatever they wanted offensively.
It took some time, but Paul woke up, and sparked a 15-5 run to end the third by scoring nine points during that span to cut the Thunder lead to single digits.
The Clippers cut the lead to two with just over six minutes remaining, thanks to a 10-0 run that was sparked by a curious substitution from Thunder coach Scott Brooks. He sat Russell Westbrook in favor of Reggie Jackson, and Jackson missed a long three-pointer and committed a turnover to help fuel L.A.’s comeback.
The Thunder had the lead back up to seven, before consecutive corner threes from Matt Barnes had the game back within reach for the Clippers. And that’s when things went off the rails.
Ibaka and Griffin were engaged in a physical battle in the paint for the entire game, and Ibaka crossed the line with the Thunder leading by three and 1:52 remaining. With a downward chopping motion, Ibaka swung and landed a hit to Griffin’s groin with his right arm, resulting in an initial ruling of a flagrant foul one by the officials.
The referees reviewed the play, and the call stood. But the rule book defines what Ibaka did as a “punching foul,” which should come with it an automatic ejection. Ibaka was allowed to stay in the game, and he made two key plays down the stretch that sealed the win for his team.
Initially, the foul call benefited the Clippers, as they scored seven points on a single possession (the three from Barnes, the technical free throw, and another three from Jamal Crawford) to take a one-point lead.
But as Ibaka was allowed to stay in the game, he scored inside on an and-one play where he was fouled by Griffin with under a minute remaining. It was Griffin’s sixth foul, so he was done for the afternoon.
Then, Ibaka blocked a layup attempt from Matt Barnes with seven seconds remaining that would have cut the Thunder lead back down to two.
Big win for the Thunder, and a valiant effort by the Clippers to come back and compete after falling behind by so much so early.
We can only hope that the playoff bracket looks in April the way it does today, so we can see many more games between these two teams as early as the postseason’s second round.
May 4, 2015, 3:59 PM EDT
Look for LeBron to try and post Butler up to draw help.
May 4, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT
Neither of these guys is used to being matched up on a big as athletic as they are.
May 4, 2015, 2:55 PM EDT
Spurs coach echoes Doc Rivers. Can they get the rule changed?
May 4, 2015, 2:22 PM EDT
…after singing Paul’s praises
May 4, 2015, 1:44 PM EDT
What would that rule be?
May 4, 2015, 1:09 PM EDT
Finally! I’d been on the edge of my seat
May 4, 2015, 12:33 PM EDT
Pick and John Wall’s pass led to Otto Porter’s crunch-time layup
May 4, 2015, 11:58 AM EDT
Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com casts unintended vote for Russell Westbrook, places Anthony Davis higher than planned
Stephen Curry wins MVP with 100 of 130 first-place votes, but James Harden closest second place in four years
May 4, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT
LeBron James finishes third
May 4, 2015, 10:28 AM EDT
Warriors seemed to enjoy Game 1 win over Grizzlies
May 4, 2015, 9:53 AM EDT
San Antonio players went out in Los Angeles after losing to Clippers
One NBA MVP voter switched from James Harden to Stephen Curry after hearing Warriors’ phone campaign
May 4, 2015, 9:15 AM EDT
Curry will win the award. How much credit does he owe Golden State’s P.R. staff?
May 4, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT
It all starts with the answer to this question: How healthy is Chris Paul?
May 4, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
The drop off from Chris Paul to Austin Rivers should scare Clippers fans.
May 4, 2015, 12:10 AM EDT
Wall looked like one of the best point guards and leaders in the game Monday.
May 3, 2015, 11:01 PM EDT
Nobody wanted to talk about the future in the wake of an emotional loss.
May 3, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT
The Grizzlies have some work to do defensively to slow Curry.
May 3, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT
Harden comes in second in the voting.
May 3, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT
He was loudly booed by the Oracle Arena crowd.
May 3, 2015, 6:17 PM EDT
Memphis, minus Mike Conley, looks completely overmatched (as expected)
- PBT Extra: Can Jimmy Butler have success slowing LeBron James? 0
- PBT Extra: Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan matchup key part of Clippers vs. Rockets 0
- Stephen Curry wins MVP with 100 of 130 first-place votes, but James Harden closest second place in four years 17
- PBT Second Round Playoff Preview: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Houston Rockets 10
- Ginobili, Duncan, Popovich dance around questions about Spurs’ future 10
- Reports: Stephen Curry to be named MVP Monday 42
- Hawks start hot, finish cold, Wizards take Game 1 on road 104-98. 8
- PBT Second-Round Playoff Preview: Washington Wizards vs. Atlanta Hawks 4