Clippers 107, Thunder 92
Nuggets from my notebook from Wednesday’s 107-92 loss at the Clippers.
- The same holes in the Thunder’s defense that we saw throughout much of the first three games promptly popped up against the Clippers. Eric Bledsoe started the game with a fast break layup and he never looked back. The Clippers went on to get loads of open looks, high-percentage shots from in close and numerous other fast break opportunities all night.
- Once again, the Thunder’s offense did little to prop up its struggling defense. What was most surprising about the first half, though, was how the Clippers came out sharing the ball while the Thunder was the team that played selfishly. While the Clippers moved the ball and let their passing lead to open shots, much of the Thunder’s 19-point first half deficit can be explained by too much one-on-one play. There were at least four possessions in the first quarter alone that the Thunder took a shot without making one pass. With 2:59 left in the first quarter, the Clippers had six assists by five different players and the Thunder had three assists, all by Russell Westbrook.
- Jeff Green was the lone bright spot tonight. I wanted to get a good look at how he fared against Blake Griffin, who probably already is the most athletic power forward in the league, so I watched that matchup closely. And Green more than held his own. I know some of you will look at his minus-21 in the box score and come to the conclusion that he was awful. He was not. He put a body on Griffin on almost every defensive rebound opportunity and played within himself offensively more than anyone else tonight.
- If you DVR’d the game, go back and look at Griffin’s first rebound to see how strong he really is. On that play, you can clearly see Green boxing out Griffin. But Griffin pushed and pushed and pushed some more until Green was under the basket and Griffin was in position to grab the offensive rebound. Those are the plays you can’t do much about. Said Green: “Terrific athlete. He plays very hard. He’s going to be tough in the league.”
- Kevin Durant was 0-for-10 from behind the 3-point line. That’s a career worst for KD, topping his old mark of 0-for-8 against the Lakers on Nov. 3, 2009. Durant was just 6-for-24 from the field. But he avoided a career-low in that efficiency department. He went 3-for-20 against Portland on Nov. 1, 2009. Still, Durant is now shooting just 26 percent from behind the arc and only 35.1 percent from the field.
- As a team, the Thunder is shooting 39.3 percent from the field and just 18.9 percent from behind the 3-point line.
- Continuing with that theme, James Harden went 1-for-7 Wednesday and is now just 4-for-23 (17.9 percent) from the field. Thunder coach Scott Brooks sees it getting better. “James has struggled. There’s no way around it,” said Brooks. But we all have a lot of confidence in him. Every player will go through stretches during the year or their career that you have to really buckle down and take the challenge and pass the test. And he did it multiple times last year. He did not have 82 good games last season, but he bounced back. I have faith in him and I expect him to bounce back.”
- Durant’s six turnovers give him 19 through four games. It’s the third time he’s had six turnovers in a game.
- On a more positive note, Daequan Cook showed a pulse tonight. He immediately hit a 3-pointer just seconds after checking into the game for the first time. It was his first of the season. He had 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting tonight.
- Back to the bad and the ugly: Westbrook missed a wide open two-handed dunk off a beautiful backdoor feed from Green in the first half. The Clippers went down and scored at the other end. Four-point swing that was one of many that kept the Thunder at bay tonight.
- Some guys were chanting Oklahoma (I think in a positive way) from a suite at the start of the fourth quarter. Not sure what that was about, but there were a lot of other Thunder fans and Oklahoma gear (the state) in the building tonight.
- The Thunder has yet to put together four solid quarters. I’m wondering when we’ll see that for the first time.
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