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

Defensive pressure: A. After a massive turnover discrepancy in the series’ first four games, the Thunder finally put some pressure on the Clippers. The Thunder committed 12 turnovers, but just three in the second half. Meanwhile, the Clippers committed 17 turnovers, including two in the final 14 seconds, both by the usually reliable Paul.

Officiating: B. Too many fouls called. Way too many. The Clippers were called for 10 in the first quarter and had 18 by halftime. The Thunder had 13 at halftime. The Thunder 25 foul shots in the first half. But the whistles subsided in the second half. And cut the referees some slack. This series has been physical and confrontational. Too much complaining. Crew chief Tony Brothers said as much when he blew the whistle and issued a second-quarter warning. “That’s it,” Brothers said.

Handling foul trouble: B. Both teams were saddled with foul trouble. OKC’s Ibaka and Nick Collison each had two fouls in the first quarter. So did LA’s DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul, and teammate Big Baby Davis had three. Ibaka and Jordan both played less than 6 1/2 minutes in the first half. Jordan eventually fouled out in just 19:44, while Davis was limited to 18:11. But the Thunder milked 30:14 out of Ibaka, and the Clips got 40:25 out of Paul.

Defending Griffin: C. The hometown boy dominated the first quarter, with 11 points and five rebounds. He kept Ibaka in foul trouble. But the Thunder did a better job on Griffin the last three periods. Griffin did most of his damage – 24 points, 17 rebounds – from the perimeter, which the Thunder will take. Collison, Kendrick Perkins and Steven Adams all took turns in Ibaka’s wake of trying to slow Griffin.

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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