Routed in Game 1, the Thunder repaid the favor, roaring to a 20-point lead in the third quarter and breezing to a 112-101 victory. The grades reflect such a dominating victory:
Starting lineup: A. The beleaguered starting unit was fantastic for the Thunder. OKC had a 22-18 lead when Scotty Brooks made his first substitution. And in the third quarter, Brooks went with his starting five the first 9:23, during which the Thunder outscored the Clippers 29-17. Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins were superb. Perkins’ plus-minus was plus-18.
Handling emotions: A. Another emotional day for Kevin Durant, who in a pregame ceremony was handed the MVP trophy by commissioner Adam Silver. And Durant handled it famously. He scored baskets on OKC’s first two possessions and zipped to 17 first-quarter points. And Russell Westbrook didn’t get caught up in the emotions of the game, either, despite a shaky stretch in the second quarter. Both finished with monster games.
Dignitaries: A. For the corporate crowd, NBA commissioner Adam Silver attended the game and presented the MVP trophy to Kevin Durant. For the quirky crowd, NBA superfan Jimmy Goldstein and his leather jacket sat courtside. So did Durant agent Jay Z, for the hip-hop crowd. But on the front row along the baseline, three seats from Thunder chairman Clay Bennett, sat Troy Aikman, wearing a blue Thunder T-shirt, for the Oklahoma crowd.
Reggie Jackson: D. Let’s be honest. As goes Jackson, so goes the Thunder bench. And for the second straight game, Jackson struggled. He had as many turnovers (three) as baskets (two) and assists combined (one), playing just 12:48. The Thunder finished with just 13 bench points. The Clippers had 33.
Playing fast: A. The Thunder likes to play fast. The Clippers like to play faster. But the Thunder handled this fast-paced game much better. OKC matched LA 13-13 in transition points, but it was a 13-6 Thunder edge through three quarters. By mid-fourth quarter, both teams were gassed. So when the Thunder slowed it down, and the Clippers needed to speed it up, their energy was gone. Their late fast-break points came from reserves.
Protecting leads: C. The Thunder got up 11 points late in the first quarter and squandered all of it within eight minutes. That’s forgiveable. But after taking a 103-83 lead with 7:13 left in the game, OKC got sloppy. The Thunder made just one basket the next 5:50, and the Clippers chipped away, mostly with reserves, drawing as close as 11 points with 2:44 left.
Rebounding: A. DeAndre Jordan had no offensive rebounds. Blake Griffin had two. The Clippers as a team had nine. Meanwhile, Westbrook had six all by his lonesome. The Thunder turned its 15 offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points; the Clippers had just nine. And all that despite LA missing more shots than did the Thunder. The Clippers will be hard-pressed to win without more force on the boards.
Perimeter defense: B. The Clippers made their first four 3-point shots, all in the first five minutes. But the rest of the game, LA made just five of 23 on 3-pointers. J.J. Redick was hot all game long, finishing 7-of-10 overall, but the Thunder in the second half limited Redick to just two shots. Chris Paul was solid again, making 2-of-5 3-pointers and handed out 11 assists. But Jamal Crawford made just one of seven 3-pointers. Overall, the Thunder defense was much better.