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Clippers 112, Thunder 100

John Rohde Published: January 31, 2012

Some observations from the Thunder’s 112-100 loss against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night at Staples Center:

  • First thing’s first. Here it is.
  • There’s really not much I can add, except that it was the most vicious dunk I’ve ever seen in person, and I’ve been there to witness some pretty wicked dunks from Blake Griffin the past few years – a baseline slam soaring in from the left wing in Norman comes to mind when he scrapped his head on the backboard, which thankfully was padded. I was seated behind the basket where Griffin threw down the dunk of the year in the NBA on Monday night against the Thunder. Truly scary. I can’t imagine what it looked like from Kendrick Perkins’ point of view. Glad I was lucky enough to see it. A truly amazing athlete, Griffin.
  • Griffin’s dunk easily beat what LeBron James did Sunday as the NBA’s top dunk this season. James jumped over a crouching, 5-foot-somethin’ John Lucas III. Griffin threw it down over the 6-foot-9, 267-pound, get-outta-my-face Perkins. Any questions? Heck, even James himself chose Griffin with this tweet – @KingJames (LeBron James): “Dunk of the Year!! @blakegriffin just dunked on Kendrick Perkins so hard!! Wow!! I guess I’m #2 now. Move over #6
  • OK, one more look. Post-game reactions on the dunk:
  • Griffin: “When they play the replay over the Jumbotron, you hear the crowd. DJ’s reaction is always my gauge on what the dunk was like. I think that time he screamed, grabbed me and bear-hugged me. I figure he thought it was cool.”
  • Clippers point guard Chris Paul: “That’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, just like the dunk (Griffin had) against the Knicks (last season). You’re watching the game, and I’m playing the game. So I can get excited for a split second, but I have to keep everyone locked in and let that one go.”
  • Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro: “He’s going to do that when he gets moving. I thought it was a great pass and obviously a great finish. He’s such a tremendous athlete, you’re going to see things like that once in a while just because of his aggressiveness and the way he attacks the basket.”
  • Perkins: “It happens. At the end of the day, if you’re a shot blocker, you’re going to get dunked on. It was a great play that he made. Obviously, I wish I wasn’t in it, but it was a great play that he made.”
  • Thunder All-Star Kevin Durant: “Man, I don’t care about that dunk.”
  • Back to the game. The Thunder took a 4-0 lead and then stunk. If Durant and Russell Westbrook hadn’t shown up offensively, we’re looking at a 50-point loss. Seriously. Hey, bad games happen, and this was one of them. However comma, the Clippers are starting to figure things out, which is trouble for the rest of the West. Thunder coach Scott Brooks said it was the best team OKC has played thus far and he’s right. Now the fun begins for the Clippers, who play seven of their next eight on the road, just like the stretch the Thunder currently is experiencing right now. Keep an eye on the Clippers. They were wicked good on Monday. 
  • Brooks said his team is at its best when it defends, and he’s right, but OKC also has the ability to score. They’ve got the two-time scoring champ, fercryinoutloud, and a sidekick scoring 20-something. There’s no polite way to put this, but imagine how good the Thunder could be if it shared the ball like the Clippers? LA had 28 assists on 45 field goals. OKC had 15 assists on 38 field goals. Look, I know Durant and Westbrook have the ability to score off the dribble and not off the pass and James Harden is like a knife through butter, but there’s nothing prettier to watch in basketball than good ball movement. Nothing. You’re telling me whipping the ball around and finding Durant or Westbrook or Harden or anybody for an open shot would be a bad thing?
  • When Brooks shows his team footage of this loss, I hope he doesn’t do it for defensive purposes. I hope he tells his players to watch how the Clippers did it offensively. LA had six players score in double-digits and three had 20 or more points. Three guys took 16 shots each, and the other three took 11, nine and seven. Good luck defending that. 
  • Clippers guard Chauncey Billups has played a lot of basketball. He’s in his 15th NBA season and also has played internationally. At no time does Billups recall any team going on a 12-0 run in a span of 51 seconds by hitting four straight 3-pointers, which is precisely what LA did to deflate OKC at the end of the first half Monday. “I don’t believe I have,” Billups said. Not even during Team USA’s 121-66 victory over Angola at the 2010 FIBA World Championship, or four days earlier in a 35-point win over Tunisia? “Maybe. Maybe,” Billups said with a smile.
  • With the acquisitions of the three C’s (Chris, Chauncey and Caron), the Clippers instantaneously have transformed themselves from three-plus decades of being a punch line to being a potential powerhouse.
  • Brooks: “They are good team. They are the best team we’ve played all year. They have everything – a talented team, their bench is really good and they played well. Give them credit. They took it to us and we have work to do.”
  • Nick Collison: “They’re good. Man, they’re a really good basketball team. I was impressed with them. They have a lot of guys that can play. We can play much better, but they do a good job of moving the ball and finding open players.”
  • Bad news arrived 90 minutes before tipoff when Brook announced Thabo Sefolosha would not play because of a sore right foot. He remains day-to-day. OKC’s rhythm and substitution rotation was completely out of whack all night. Would the Thunder have won had Sefolosha played? Perhaps. Perhaps not. The entire dynamic of the game likely would have been different. Sefolosha has now missed two starts and OKC has lost both games (at home against Portland being the other). Games like Monday’s are why Sefolosha starts, why he must start. This is not to pin the loss on Harden, but if Harden starts and he’s off the mark, you get what you got on Monday — the Thunder hanging on for dear life.
  • Collison on the importance of Sefolosha: “We definitely missed him out there. Defensively, he’s as good as there is. Offensively, he does a lot of things, too. He’s kind of like the motor oil out there offensively where he does a lot of small things that make things go smoothly. He makes a good hard cut to get somebody else open. Obviously, defensively he’s great, too. We gave up a lot on the perimeter and he would have helped. He allows our second unit to play with James. It’s a big loss. Hopefully he can get healthy. We need him back.”
  • Brooks said the Thunder has played one bad game. Ever the realist, Collison smiled and clicked off all four losses: “We didn’t great in D.C. In Dallas, um … against Portland …”
  • Larry King walked by roughly 5 feet in front of me. Dude looked old. Then again, he is 78 if my math is right (did I carry the one?). King’s seventh wife (eight marriages), Shawn, looked half his age – and she’s 52. 
  • At Dallas on Wednesday at 7 p.m.



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