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Thunder-Clippers: OKC defense disappears in a Game 1 drubbing that was over early

L.A. 122, OKC 105 — The Thunder opened this Western Conference semifinal series with no answer for Chris Paul as the Clippers ran away early.
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: May 6, 2014 at 12:54 am •  Published: May 6, 2014

Russell Westbrook scored a team-high 29 points for the Thunder. Kevin Durant finished with 25 points.

The Clippers shot 54.9 percent from the field and made 15 of 29 3-pointers. They made just 17 free throws.

Paul was nearly perfect early, dropping in 17 points in the first period and making eight of nine shots, including all six of his 3-point tries in the first half. He added six assists to go with his 22 first-half points, controlling the Clippers’ offense with the precision and poise that has him firmly established as the league’s best point guard.

“When somebody’s got it going like that you just want to stay out of the way as much as possible,” said Griffin.

Clippers wings Matt Barnes and J.J. Redick supplied three additional 3s, two of them coming off assists from Paul. L.A. made seven of 10 3-pointers in the opening period and nine of 16 in the first half. It was a stark but not surprising difference from the first-round series with Memphis, which averaged just 3.8 3-poiners against the Thunder and never made more than seven in any game.

L.A.’s success from long range sucked the Thunder’s defense farther out and, as a result, loosened up opportunities for the Clippers to score in the paint.

At that point, things only snowballed.

“When a guy hits five or six 3s in a row, you don’t want to give him no more,” Durant said. “That’s when they started to get some stuff in the paint…We got to correct it. We got to make them miss next game.”

Westbrook tried to match wits with Paul with his aggression and almost did. He scored 16 points in the first half but had just two assists and five of the Thunder’s 11 costly first-half turnovers. The Clippers turned those giveaways into 13 points. OKC scored 10 fewer points off just three Clippers turnovers.

Oklahoma City’s turnovers, coupled with its creaky defense, resulted in a 14-point deficit in the first quarter and an alarming 65-41 margin with 2:59 remaining in the first half.

The Thunder trimmed it to 17 at the half, but the Clippers promptly regained a commanding 23-point cushion when Redick made a layup off an assist from Paul with 8:23 left to play.

Fans uncharacteristically began filing out of The Peake after the third quarter, when a 104-78 Clippers lead looked, and ultimately proved to be, insurmountable.

“We will get better,” Brooks said. “That’s not who we are.”

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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