With 61 seconds remaining in the third quarter, the public address announcer inside Chesapeake Energy Arena had the audacity to request Loud City make some noise for its Thunder’s defense.
Apparently, he wasn’t aware of what the scoreboard showed.
Oklahoma City at that point had already allowed triple digits and trailed by 24 points.
Not surprisingly, roughly 15 seconds later, Blake Griffin stormed down the lane and sent home another uncontested, rim-rattling dunk.
And so it went in the Thunder’s 122-105 drubbing at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 on Monday night.
Oklahoma City’s defense flat out disappeared, and the high-powered Clippers offense wasted no time taking advantage and dealing the Thunder one of its worst defeats in its brief playoff history.
But this one was over long before the final buzzer.
The Clippers controlled the game from the moment it erased a short-lived six-point Thunder lead with a 24-6 run that put them ahead by double digits late in the first quarter.
The game was really over, though, with four minutes remaining in the third quarter. That’s when Reggie Jackson and Caron Butler popped off the Thunder bench to replace Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins. It was the moment OKC, on this night, conceded that it had no answer for its biggest concern, which was stopping these Clippers.
With his team trailing 82-58, Thunder coach Scott Brooks subbed out his two best defensive players and stuck his best offensive lineup on the floor. He had given up trying to stop the Clippers. By then, he was simply trying to keep up.
“We had to change,” Brooks said. “We had to make some adjustments and change a few of our pick-and-roll coverages. And we changed a few of our lineups and played small.”
“We didn’t do a good job playing big. We didn’t do a good job playing small,” Brooks added.
The Clippers went on to lead by as many as 29 points in the fourth quarter before the Thunder’s third string made the final margin look at least somewhat respectable in garbage time. The Thunder allowed three straight quarters of at least 30 points in the first three periods and had all kinds of trouble defending the paint and 3-point line.
Things got so bad that OKC resorted to intentionally fouling Clippers center DeAndre Jordan with 4:02 remaining in the third quarter. It was a desperation move that turned out to be the Thunder’s best defense of the night. Jordan went 1-for-8 from the foul line during that stretch. Still, the Thunder made up just three points, illustrating the type of night it was.
Chris Paul scored a game-high 32 points with 10 assists and just two turnovers to lead the Clippers. He made 12 of 14 shots and went 8-for-9 from 3-point range. Griffin added 23 points, and Sixth Man of the Year winner Jamal Crawford chipped in 17 off the bench.
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