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Oklahoma City Thunder notebook: Serge Ibaka did not intend to hurt Blake Griffin

Game between OKC and Clippers was physical affair between two teams fighting for Western Conference supremacy.
By John Rohde Published: March 3, 2013

class="body">“We were moving the ball,” Durant said. “I think we did a really good job closing the paint up. They had three dunks in the first half and that's what gets their team going, that's what gets their building going. It's the lobs and the dunks.”

In the second half, however, the Clippers exploded for 63 points and had just five turnovers.



An effective zone defense was partial responsible for the Clippers' second-half comeback. A fluid Thunder offense often became stagnant after intermission and OKC shot just 21.4 percent (3 for 14) from 3-point range in the second half.

“I definitely think it's something we can use in the future,” All-Star point guard Chris Paul said of the zone. “It worked there for us up until those last two possessions … but that defense helped us. That's what helped us get back into the game. I think we've got to keep working on it. It's something that can be a weapon for us.”



For the second straight game, the Thunder inexplicably struggled at the free-throw line.

OKC shot 24 for 34 (. 706) in its last-second, two-point loss at Denver on Friday night. Against the Clippers, the Thunder started out 4 for 10 and finished 25 for 34 (. 735).

In the five previous contests, OKC shot 130 for 138 (. 942) from the line.

The Thunder made free throws when it mattered most on Sunday, going 13 for 14 in the second half, 7 for 7 in the fourth quarter and making its last 10 attempts.



The victory gave the Thunder a 3-0 season sweep against the Clippers, but All-Star point guard Chris Paul said that carries little weight.

“It doesn't (matter),” Paul said. “I think last year we were 3-1 against them during the season and they got to the NBA Finals. Both teams are still building, jockeying for position and stuff like that. But we need to keep building up wins because maybe some time again later in the season we'll see them again.”



Thunder players excelled in two games this weekend with the Tulsa 66ers, who have now won six straight and stand 21-15.

Perry Jones: 18.5 points; 6.5 rebounds; 1.5 blocks.

Jeremy Lamb: 20.5 ppg; 5.0 rpg; 3.0 apg

DeAndre Liggins: 8.0 ppg; 2.5 rpg; 3.5 apg; 3.5 steals; 1.0 blocks.



Durant initially wore a microphone for the game, but it was removed late in the first quarter because it felt uncomfortable. … In the race for a higher Western Conference seed, the Thunder (43-16) now has three fewer losses than the Clippers (43-19). … OKC outscored LA in points in the paint (48-34), fast-break points (14-7), second-chance points (16-14). … The Clippers lead the NBA in points off turnovers, but the Thunder won that, too (24-17).



Paul on the Clippers committing 16 first-half turnovers: “That's bogus. That's crazy. That's not like us. … We usually don't have 16 turnovers for the whole game. That's kind of embarrassing.”