OKC Thunder vs LA Clippers Game Recap
Russell Westbrook wills the OKC Thunder to yet another big time win against the feisty Los Angeles Clippers. The game was close throughout but late game heroics by the star of Oklahoma City sealed the deal.
Another game, more foul trouble for rookie Domantas Sabonis. Sabonis picked up a quick three fouls within the first 5 minutes of the first quarter that forced head coach, Billy Donovan, to roll out Enes Kanter a little earlier than they would have liked. That move may have hindered the bench scoring a little and especially Kanter’s own groove.
Throughout the first quarter, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Thunder went back and forth in scoring. But a quick run by the Clippers when OKC’s bench entered the game changed that. It wasn’t until a couple of minutes before Russell Westbrook re-entered the game that OKC caught fire and begin going on their own run to close the first half.
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In fact, all five of OKC’s starters ended the first half with pluses in the plus/minus category with Sabonis being the lowest at +3. There was no answer for Westbrook all night, who finished with 35 points and five assists. That was both a blessing and almost a curse in that no one else besides him stepped up. Westbrook was the only player to finish with double digits for the Thunder, which usually spells trouble for the team, but good team defense made up for the lack of offense.
Oklahoma City opened the third quarter up with Nick Collison in at the power forward position instead of Domantas Sabonis. Collison filled in well, exactly what he has always done for this team, but his minutes were limited.
The second half was more of the same back and forth action. Neither team went on a run of more than six points at a time. Chalk that up to good defense or bad shooting, but it was pretty much like that throughout the ball game. Key defensive stops towards the end was the key for this ugly win. Both teams shot around 40% from the field for the game and had a total of 41 turnovers between them. Maybe ugly isn’t the word for that, sloppy seems more appropriate.
Racking up wins, no matter how they come, is a plus. Especially for this Thunder team that is spending this early part of the season figuring out how they want to play. It is also great to have a super-duper star as your point guard during that process.
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One guy that did struggle tonight was Enes Kanter. He shot an awful 3-11 from the field which earned him extended bench time for most of the fourth quarter.
Newly acquired forward, Jerami Grant, received some crucial playing time in this one. He only registered 6 points, but he had two nice blocks that highlighted his defensive potential in this rotation.
Russell Westbrook ended the game with 10 turnovers. Yikes! But he made up for each of them with the game sealing mid-range over Deandre Jordan with only seconds left in the fourth quarter.
R.I.P. to Kyle Singler‘s minutes. With a DNP in the second half of this one and the defensive prowess of newcomer, Jerami Grant, Singler could find himself on the end of the bench for the second season in a row.
Oklahoma City travels to the bay area to face the Golden State Warriors and Kevin Durant tomorrow. Enough said.