Westbrook and Durant, meanwhile, missed their first nine shots and combined for just one point in the first eight minutes of play. That lone point came on a technical foul shot by Durant 19 seconds into the game. Compounding the problem was two fouls on Westbrook, forcing him to sit with 4:10 left in the opening period.
Foul trouble became a major factor for the Thunder in the first half as six players, four starters, were whistled for at least two fouls.
Durant’s first field goal didn’t come until he swished a 15-foot pull-up with 3:01 remaining in the quarter. Despite the early adversity, it pulled the Thunder within 20-14.
But the Clippers ended the quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 30-16 lead into the second period.
In addition to OKC’s missed shots, turnovers told the story of the Thunder’s first quarter. OKC had six which led to eight Clippers points. L.A. gave it away just twice in the first period.
Five Clippers scored at least five points in the first period. Durant and Westbrook had a combined three on 1-for-11 shooting.
Durant, though, sparked a rally midway through the second period with three straight 3-pointers that pulled the Thunder within 41-36 with 4:37 left in the quarter. The Clippers responded with a 9-0 run to go back up 14, but OKC closed the half on a 6-0 run, cutting the deficit to eight at the break.
That’s when Durant decided everything would be easier if he just dominated the rest of the way.
When he came to that conclusion, the Clippers didn’t stand a chance.
After shooting 4-for-12 in the first half, Durant scored 14 points in the third quarter, going 5-for-5 from the field. The Thunder went 10-for-14. But in addition to Durant’s hot hand, a more determined defensive effort in the quarter helped OKC outscore L.A. 30-22.
Westbrook didn’t net his first field goal until converting a backdoor layup off a feed from Nick Collison with 3:48 remaining. Nonetheless, the Thunder trailed, 64-59, despite Westbrook’s uncharacteristic offensive struggles.
After a corner 3 by Collison improbably tied the score at 72-all heading into the fourth, the Thunder seized control in the final period. OKC had an 18-8 run to start the frame and went ahead by as many as 11 in the final three minutes.