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. Lakers work out seven NBA veteran free agents beyond Michael Beasley

    Aug 28, 2014, 12:20 AM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Dexter Pittman, Greg Stiemsma, Daniel Orton, Bobby Brown, Toney Douglas, Ben Hansbrough and Malcolm Lee try out

  2. Robbie Hummel to release hip-hop album. Wait. What?

    Aug 27, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

    Robbie Hummel Robbie Hummel

    NBA news you definitely didn’t expect to read today

  3. Jerry Colangelo on James Harden leading Team USA: ‘He’s the one’

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:20 PM EDT

    Puerto Rico v United States Getty Images

    Rockets guard continues to draw praise after offseason of petty comments

  4. Dion Waiters: Kevin Love ‘thinks I’m underrated’ and ‘knows I pass the ball’

    Aug 27, 2014, 7:22 PM EDT

    Dion Walters, Kevin Love Dion Walters, Kevin Love

    Waiters on the possibility of playing with Love, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving: ‘I’ve got to destroy my opponent’

  5. Michael Beasley gets second Lakers workout

    Aug 27, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Miami Heat Getty Images

    Former No. 2 remains unsigned after disappointing season with Heat

  6. Doc Rivers got PAID

    Aug 27, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT

    San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

    New contract with Clippers makes Rivers the NBA’s highest-paid coach

  7. Russian guard Dmitry Kulagin, with Kings interest, considering jumping to NBA

    Aug 27, 2014, 3:41 PM EDT

    Adidas Eurocamp - Day 3 Getty Images

    Kulagin, 22, went undrafted and is now an unrestricted free agent

  8. Cavaliers sold Kyrie Irving on contract extension with LeBron James-Kevin Love plan

    Aug 27, 2014, 2:22 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Miami Heat Cleveland Cavaliers v Miami Heat

    Go back to July 1 and consider the possibility of LeBron James and Kevin Love playing for Cleveland this season

  9. Kevin Love says Timberwolves owner should focus on his own team following trade to Cavaliers

    Aug 27, 2014, 1:02 PM EDT

    Kevin Love Kevin Love

    Minnesota’s owner tried to point out some of Love’s flaws once the deal was done.

  10. Doc Rivers signs contract with Clippers through 2019

    Aug 27, 2014, 12:21 PM EDT

    Doc Rivers, Steve Ballmer Doc Rivers, Steve Ballmer

    Clippers owner Steve Ballmer calls keeping Rivers ‘one of my top priorities’

  11. Donald Sterling doesn’t appeal, basically throws in towel on owning Clippers

    Aug 27, 2014, 11:46 AM EDT

    Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano

    Donald Sterling will try to embarrass the league going forward, but he will not ever own the Clippers again.

  12. Iman Shumpert excited to play in triangle offense because he won’t just have to stand in the corner

    Aug 27, 2014, 10:31 AM EDT

    Miami Heat v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Shumpert and other Knicks will love an offense with player and ball movement… if ‘Melo shares the rock.

  13. Sixers GM says he never had conversations about acquiring Anthony Bennett

    Aug 27, 2014, 9:51 AM EDT

    Sam Hinkie

    Sixers value a pick in next year’s draft more than they do Bennett at this time.

Featured video

Will LeBron get booed Christmas Day in Miami?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Love (3807)
  2. D. Rose (3244)
  3. T. Young (2548)
  4. K. Bryant (2511)
  5. L. James (2490)
  1. K. Irving (2391)
  2. A. Davis (1943)
  3. G. Hayward (1860)
  4. R. Allen (1810)
  5. E. Bledsoe (1736)