Oklahoma City Thunder: No answer for Chris Paul
The Clippers’ 100-98 victory over the Thunder on Wednesday night has to be a little disconcerting, considering the Thunder and Clips could be headed for a second-round playoff series. The Clippers seem headed for the fourth or fifth seed, and if OKC somehow keeps its precarious lead in the Western Conference, they would be on the same side of the West bracket.
And a playoff series against the Clippers would be no fun for the Thunder, thanks to Chris Paul. CP3 torched the Thunder for 31 points Wednesday night, including 24 in the second half and the Clippers’ final two baskets. The game-winner, which broke a 98-98 tie, is the play that has to scare the Thunder.
With a timeout allowing Scotty Brooks to set his defense, the Thunder had the advantage on LA’s final possession. Everyone focuses on offense in the final seconds and how often superstars produce, but the evidence is clear that defense has the advantage in late situations. When the defense can set itself, offensive efficiency lacks.
But Paul scored on a driving layup with 8.8 seconds left. The Thunder’s defense was interesting — Thabo Sefolosha drew the CP3 assignment, which was the proper move. Russell Westbrook had failed to keep Paul out of the lane much of the night. But Scotty Brooks’ defensive alignment included Kendrick Perkins staying near the top of the lane and not following his man to the corner. Perk’s job was clear; double team Paul and make him get rid of the ball.
But when the Clippers ran a screen, Sefolosha tried to ward off the screen, even to the point of drifting far to Paul’s left. Suddenly, CP3 realized he in reality was being guarded one-on-one by Perkins, especially if Paul went right. And so he did. No surprise, Paul went right past Perkins. Westbrook, guarding the right corner, zipped over to try to stop Paul, but CP3 went past Westbrook. Serge Ibaka was late getting to the rim and trying to block the layup.
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients