Skip to content

Thunder overcome late rally by Clippers to win a physical one in Los Angeles

Mar 3, 2013, 7:07 PM EDT

ibaka griffin

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Chris Paul to attend Team USA minicamp

    Aug 1, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    Chris Paul, Ray McCallum Chris Paul, Ray McCallum

    Paul is still in the running for a spot on the 2016 Olympic team.

  2. Raptors’ GM Masai Ujiri sees Bismack Biyombo as key part of roster transformation

    Aug 1, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Detroit Pistons v Charlotte Hornets Getty Images

    Biyombo has worked with Hakeem Olajuwon this summer on post moves, other parts of his game.

  3. Nets finally taking responsible path to rebuilding, don’t expect another spending spree next summer

    Aug 1, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Brooklyn Nets Deron Williams Paul Pierce Kevin Garnett Getty Images

    The Nets will be paying the price for their win-now era for a few years to come still.

  4. Report: Dwight Howard to attend Team USA mini-camp after all

    Aug 1, 2015, 1:11 AM EDT

    Dwight Howard AP

    This is the right move, whether he decides to play in Rio or not.

  5. Watch Karl-Anthony Towns highlights from Summer League

    Jul 31, 2015, 11:08 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwu3mmzjztazntu1ogzhywnkzju2otmyzgnloty5otbl1 AP

    He looks like a guy who can live up to the No. 1 pick billing.

  6. Pelicans waive Toney Douglas, still await Norris Cole decision

    Jul 31, 2015, 10:26 PM EDT

    Utah Jazz v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Norris Cole is still looking for a bigger payday.

  7. Pacers’ Jordan Hill arrested for reckless driving, clocked at 107 mph

    Jul 31, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT

    Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Hill told the police he was “in a hurry.” I guess so.

  8. Warriors trade Gerald Wallace to Philadelphia in exchange for Jason Thompson

    Jul 31, 2015, 7:01 PM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    Neither guy is going to make a difference on the court for these teams. This was just moving some money around.

  9. Trail Blazers guarantee Allen Crabbe’s contract for next season

    Jul 31, 2015, 5:46 PM EDT

    LV Celtics v Trailblazers Getty Images

    Crabbe looked good in Las Vegas at Summer League.

  10. Report: Hedo Turkoglu wants to play anther NBA season, Kings possiblity

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:59 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    The Kings don’t really have the roster spot for him.

  11. Grizzlies’ D-League affiliate hires female assistant coach

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:11 PM EDT

    NBA.com NBA.com

    Iowa Energy add Nicki Gross to coaching staff

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (2713)
  2. B. Haywood (2029)
  3. M. Miller (1897)
  4. I. Thomas (1871)
  5. L. James (1842)
  1. N. Young (1716)
  2. J. Smith (1701)
  3. T. Thompson (1623)
  4. S. Napier (1622)
  5. G. Robinson III (1518)