Six seconds after Jamal Crawford grabbed the game's first rebound, his Clipper teammate, Matt Barnes, drilled a 3-point shot.
On this Sunday, that constituted slowdown offense for the Clips. The Thunder lost 125-117 because it failed to master one of the fundamentals of the sport.
Get back on defense.
The Clippers had 27 fastbreak points in the first half alone, en route to a 72-66 halftime lead. The Clippers made 27 shots in the first half; 11 of those came six seconds or less into a possession.
This game was not complicated. The Thunder didn't get back on defense, and it fueled the Clippers all day long.
“We really couldn't get ourself in front of them,” Russell Westbrook said. “They was beating us down the floor early. Kind of gave them some confidence.”
You think? The Clippers shot 66 percent in the first half. By game's end, all five LA starters had scored at 18 points, led by Crawford (36) and Barnes (24), who aren't even the Clipper superstars.
And you would be hard-pressed to blame the absence of Kendrick Perkins, sidelined by a groin strain. The Thunder's defensive anchor figured to be a noticeable void against the pick'n rolls of Chris Paul, but no reason to pick or roll when you can just hustle downcourt and get an open shot quickly.
“We didn't do a great job communicating tonight, as far as transition,” Perkins said. “Who a guy had. We was trying to find our man instead of finding a man.”
The Clippers love to run, especially their big guys. Six-foot-11 DeAndre Jordan twice beat the Thunder downcourt for dunks and added a three-point play off a fastbreak. All in the first quarter.
Blake Griffin found easy points, too. Barnes ran to open spots on the perimeter and was ready to fire. Twice he had 3-pointers in transition.
The Clippers made 13 of 14 shots taken within the six seconds that define fastbreaks. In non-fastbreak shots, the Clippers made 29 of 67 shots.
Total meltdown for the Thunder, which likes to brag about its defensive mentality, usually for good reason.
Scotty Brooks was so frustrated, he thrice called for intentional fouls on Jordan, a notoriously bad foul shooter. It was good strategy. On those three trips to the line, Jordan made two of six. On the Clippers' other 26 second-quarter possessions, they scored 42 points.
“They're an excellent defensive team,” Clipper coach Doc Rivers said. “I don't think we had a quarter under 26 points. Against this team, that is a really impressive game for us.”
The last time Perkins ran fast he was 14 years old. So it's hard to say he would have made a difference.
“I don't know, he was good for us,” Rivers said, referring to Celtic days. “That was in his younger days, when he ran the 40 in 4.5. Now he might run it in 44.5, I'm not sure. I don't know.
“But where he helps you, he's a voice that tells you you're not getting back. People don't understand how important those voices are, when you have a guy talking your defense, holding people accountable. You miss that. They missed that tonight.”
At halftime, the Thunder watched first-half highlights of the Clipper running game. It seemed to help. The Clippers had just seven fastbreak points after halftime.
But in the end, the defense failed anyway. During a timeout with 2:53 left and the game tied, Rivers reemed his squad. He said it was the only part of the game he didn't like the looks of his offense.
“We reverted to that old stand-around, do-nothing offense,” Rivers said. And things changed. “The last three minutes, the execution was huge. We got every shot we wanted.”
The Clippers scored on five of their next six possessions and took control of the game. Thus the Thunder lost a game that lies solely at the feet of its defense. Time to get back to playing good defense. Which starts with just getting back.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.