Thunder Rumblings

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Nuggets from my notebook from Thursday's win over the Clippers

by Darnell Mayberry Published: November 22, 2013
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Can’t say I saw that coming…

  • Best win of the season. By far. That’s what the Thunder accomplished Thursday night in its 105-91 victory over the Clippers.
  • We’ve seen stiffer defense and more explosive offense. But never the combination of the two in the same contest. Not like this. Not against a team the caliber of the Clippers.

 

BOX SCORE: THUNDER 105, CLIPPERS 91

  • Consider coach Scott Brooks' opening statement in his postgame press conference. “I thought that was as well as we can execute a game plan,” he said.
  • The Clippers came in averaging 108.7 points, second most in the NBA. They were held to one point more than than their season low. They shot just 41.3 percent.
  • “We had lost a game against them that we all thought that we could have won,” said Thabo Sefolosha of the Thunder’s loss to Los Angeles eight days prior. “So going again against a team like that, we definitely took it a little bit more personal probably, which was good.”
  • The best part about the win, aside from the mix of terrific offense and defense, was that Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant didn’t have to be dominant. They both played well. But the Thunder got contributions from many. Serge Ibaka again battled Blake Griffin. Reggie Jackson was just fantastic off the bench. Jeremy Lamb knocked down shots and played some really impressive defense. Derek Fisher decided he was going to defend anyone Brooks threw him on and defend them well.
  • “The way we helped one another,” Sefolosha said, “it was a team win on both ends of the floor.”
  • The Thunder was terrific in keeping the Clippers out of the paint and off the free throw line. OKC limited their transition opportunities and clamped down on 3-point shots. The Thunder also out-rebounded L.A. by eight — after being out-rebounded by 15 the last time — and kept them from securing second-chance opportunities.
  • The Thunder might have the best free throw defense in the league. The Clippers shot just 7-for-15 from the charity stripe.
  • Just five fast break points for the Clippers in the second half.
  • Seventeen Thunder assists on 22 made field goals in the second half.
  • Worth noting that the Clippers were playing on the second night of a back-to-back. That’s matters, and it was the reason Jackson said he wasn’t all that fired up about this victory. “Definitely not,” he said. “We got ‘em on a back-to-back. Their legs might be tired. They might have seemed a little gassed. We took advantage of it. Good to get another notch in our belt. It was a win. But if you meet ‘em in the playoffs, everyone gets the same rest.”
  • Jackson said he was sure the Clippers wouldn’t use it as an excuse. Clippers coach Doc Rivers then used it as an excuse, saying “They had three days to prepare.”
  • Rivers said before the game that he is really high on Steven Adams. “He’s going to be good,” Rivers said. “I just like him. I liked him in our workout. I was still the coach of Boston when he worked out for us, and I really liked him. He’s going to be a good player; has great hands, can shoot the ball pretty well. He’s big. He has size. What is he 20? What were you guys doing at 20? I’d like to know that right now. We don’t even want to know, do we? But he’s going to be a good player. That was a helluva draft pick.”
  • While many have started to question Griffin’s toughness, Rivers vouched for his star by saying he shows toughness by staying composed. “To me, that’s the toughest guy you can be,” Rivers said. “I say it a million times. I’ve said it to the (Los Angeles media), Gandhi and Martin Luther King, those guys were tough. They took the hits and kept preaching. I think that’s Blake. He knows he’s athletic. The bigger guys can’t match his athleticism, so they’re going to try to use their muscle. And he can’t let it get to him, and he hasn’t for the most part. He plays through it.”
  • Rivers on Westbrook regaining his rhythm: “He probably is not back because you miss that amount of games; I think he’s healthy, 100 percent. But timing in our league, it’s hard. You miss a couple of games, and in his case several months in the summer, you just don’t walk out on the floor and be Russell Westbrook.”
  • Jay-Z and Beyonce were at the game tonight, sitting next to Durant’s customary courtside crew. Durant, who is represented by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports agency and is friends with the rap mogul, played the aw-shucks role when asked about their presence after the game. “That was crazy,” he said. “I don’t even know how to describe that one right there. That’s unbelievable for them to come to Oklahoma City and come watch us play. So it was cool to have them there.”
  • Sefolosha: “Jay-Z was there? I didn’t see him.” (He was joking.)
  • Another fan hit a halfcourt shot tonight. That’s now two straight games. “I’m happy for the guy,” Sefolosha said. “It’s a lot of money so great for him. I know he had a great night.”
  • FYI, NBA TV will air a 30-minute special on the Thunder on Friday at 6 p.m. titled “The Heart of the City.” It’s a documentary capturing the bond between the franchise and the Oklahoma City community. The special will feature interviews with players, coaches and others discussing the team’s impact on the community and its prospects this season on the court. Should be interesting.
  • Up next: Utah on Sunday.
by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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