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Thunder-Clippers Report Card: Turnovers topple Thunder in Game 4

The Thunder played wonderfully at times – which is how you build leads of 22 points in the first quarter and 16 in the fourth quarter – but an epic collapse produced a 101-99 defeat, and the grades reflect that:
by Berry Tramel Modified: May 11, 2014 at 8:22 pm •  Published: May 11, 2014

Ball distribution: C. Blake Griffin received his fifth foul with 3:40 left in the third quarter. But Griffin returned with 8:44 left in the game – and OKC leading 82-68 – and didn’t come close to getting his sixth foul. Serge Ibaka got two shots in the first minute or so of Griffin’s return (Ibaka was fouled on one of them) but none thereafter. Durant and Russell Westbrook took 15 of the Thunder’s 20 shots in the fourth quarter, five of its seven foul shots and committed three of its five turnovers. Ibaka’s jumper with 7:14 left was the final OKC shot by someone other than Durant or Westbrook.

Celebrity watch: A. Mark Wahlberg sat courtside and even participated in a timeout act. Boxer Floyd Mayweather and his entourage attended. So did Justin Bieber, Billy Crystal and Rihanna. From the basketball side, Magic Johnson, Baron Davis and Kyrie Irving were at the game, along with NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

Air Traffic Control: A. Ibaka did a wondrous job on Griffin early. Through three quarters, Griffin had made just five of 14 shots. He finished eight of 19, with foul shots helping Griffin finish with 25 points. DeAndre Jordan had decent numbers (seven points, 14 rebounds), but Kendrick Perkins kept Jordan largely in check. The Thunder outscored LA by 22 points in the 25:42 that Perkins played. Perk didn’t play in the fourth quarter.

Small ball: D. The Thunder’s small-ball lineup did not work in Game 4 – and it wasn’t working long before Clipper coach Doc Rivers went super small in the fourth quarter. In the first three quarters, the Thunder played 6:37 with a lineup that sported Durant at power forward. During that time, the Clippers outscored OKC 23-9. Then in the fourth quarter, the Thunder went small the final 10:06, against a Clipper lineup that was even smaller – Danny Granger was LA’s power forward. And the Clips outscored the Thunder 36-21, constantly breaking down the OKC defense.

by Berry Tramel
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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