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Thunder-Clippers Report Card: OKC shows resiliency in late-game rally

Not a pretty game. In truth, an ugly game from the Thunder perspective, until an amazing rally from 13 points down in the final four minutes. And the grades reflect such an amazing game.
by Berry Tramel Published: May 14, 2014
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photo - Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (35) looks up after Russell Westbrook (0) makes a free throw shot late in the fourth quarter during Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals in the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (35) looks up after Russell Westbrook (0) makes a free throw shot late in the fourth quarter during Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals in the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Not a pretty game. In truth, an ugly game from the Thunder perspective, until an amazing rally from 13 points down in the final four minutes. And the grades reflect such an amazing game.

Resiliency: A. Rip his in-game strategy if you will, but give Scotty Brooks credit for this. His players never give up. Down 13 with four minutes left, the Thunder staged a rally for the ages. And didn’t even score every trip, missing two scoring opportunities. The Clippers’ only points in the final four minutes came on a solitary possession, a foul shot by Blake Griffin, followed by a Glen Davis rebound off Griffin’s missed foul shot and a jumper by Chris Paul that gave the Clips a 104-97 lead with 49 seconds left.

Star combo: C. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were huge at the end. But for the longest time, the Thunder didn’t prosper with them on the court together. Meanwhile, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were dominant together. By game’s end, the Clippers had outscored OKC 88-82 with Griffin and Paul playing together, and the Clips outscored OKC 88-83 with Durant and Westbrook on the court together.

Russell Westbrook: A. Westbrook’s offense stagnated midway through the fourth quarter, but until then, he had been fabulous. His assists totals were not high, because Durant was making no shots, but Westbrook was his usual fearless self. He finished with 38 points on 11-of-23 shooting, six assists and five rebounds. And the never-say-die Westbrook made the game’s biggest play, a steal of Chris Paul with 14 seconds left that gave the Thunder a chance to go ahead. Which they did on Westbrook’s three foul shots with 6.4 seconds left.

Mid-range game: D. The Thunder was decent from 3-point range (seven of 17) and outscored the Clippers 44-22 in the paint. But the Thunder’s usually reliable mid-range game was atrocious. Serge Ibaka made just one shot away from the basket. Russell Westbrook’s pullup jumpers were rare. And Kevin Durant was 0-of-11 on shots longer than three and shorter than 3-pointers.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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