Thabo Sefolosha was the only guy who took the liberty to speak candidly.
He remembered what happened to the Thunder eight days ago in Los Angeles. And, according to him, so do his teammates.
“We had lost a game against them that we all thought that we could have won,” Sefolosha said. “So going again against a team like that, we definitely took it a little bit more personal probably, which was good.”
In the second of four meetings with the Clippers, the Thunder cruised to a 105-91 victory on Thursday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena, leading from start to finish and avenging its eight-point loss from eight days before.
It wouldn't be an understatement to call the win the Thunder's best by far. Only once this season has the Thunder displayed as much defensive dominance and offensive explosiveness as it did Thursday. That game came against Dallas on Nov. 6, a 14-point Thunder win.
OKC has had better defensive nights, such as last Saturday's showing at Milwaukee, and higher scoring outputs, like the 119 points the Thunder posted at Detroit. But this was without a doubt the best combination of the two, especially considering the caliber of the opponent.
“I thought that was as well as we can execute a game plan,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
The Clippers came in averaging 108.7 points, second most in the NBA. Thursday's total was just the third time they've been held under 100 points, and it was one point more than their season low.
Oklahoma City led by as many as 15 points, shot 51.9 percent, limited the Clippers to 41.3 percent shooting and out-rebounded L.A. by eight.
The Thunder also was terrific in keeping the Clippers out of the paint and off the free throw line, while both limiting their transition opportunities and clamping down on 3-point shots.
Blake Griffin scored a team-high 27 points with 10 rebounds, and Chris Paul added 17 points and a game-high 12 assists. Every other Clipper struggled. Jamal Crawford was the only other L.A. player who scored in double digits, but he needed 16 shots for his 18 points.
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 28 points and added six rebounds and eight assists. Serge Ibaka scored 17, Russell Westbrook had 12 points and Reggie Jackson finished with 11 off the bench.
The Thunder had 25 assists, seven steals and seven blocked shots.
Much like the Thunder eight days ago, the Clippers had an excuse. They played the previous night in Minnesota. The Thunder hadn't played since Monday.
“They had three days to prepare,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers.
In the first meeting, Ibaka was ejected along with Clippers forward Matt Barnes — who was not with the team due to an eye injury — near the conclusion of the first half. The Thunder went on to get outscored 58-41 in the second half.
“I think we were just able to sustain their run,” Sefolosha explained of the difference between Thursday and the first meeting. “We played our brand of basketball from start to finish. We didn't get away from the game plan, and it worked for us from start to finish.”