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:
First and third quarter defense: A. The Clippers made just six of 24 shots in the first quarter, missed all eight of their 3-pointers and scored just 15 points. The Clippers made just six of 23 shots in the third quarter, went 1-of-8 from 3-point range and scored 17 points. Blake Griffin made just one of nine shots in those two quarters.
Second and fourth quarter defense: D. The Clippers made 13 of 24 shots in the second quarter and scored 31 points. They made 14 of 22 shots in the fourth quarter and scored 38 points. In the fourth quarter, the Clippers had 24 points in the paint and made nine foul shots. Scotty Brooks waited too long to return to Thabo Sefolosha, who brought stability to the Thunder defense in Game 4. Thabo played just 21:30 the entire game. He played the final 2:38 of the second quarter, and the Clippers made just two of seven shots upon his return. Brooks also inserted Sefolosha with 2:57 left in the game, but this time, Thabo didn’t stop the Clipper spree. LA scored on five of its six possessions after Sefolosha’s return.
Game atmosphere: C. Another mediocre day at Staples Center. A late-arriving crowd – can’t blame traffic with a 12:30 p.m. Sunday tipoff – and silly game management. The Clipper crew blared the halftime music even when Chris Paul stepped to the foul line to shoot a technical, called at the end of the first half. And the scoreboard operator mistakenly listed Kevin Durant with two fouls in the first quarter, prompting Scotty Brooks to remove Durant from the game while the Thunder politicked to get it changed to the correct one.
Ball security: D. The Thunder committed 16 turnovers, leading to 22 Clippers points. Durant had eight of the turnovers himself. The Thunder had five turnovers in the fourth quarter, leading to eight LA points, which helped jump-start the Clipper comeback. All three of Durant’s fourth-quarter turnovers led to fast-break layups or dunks.
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