The first half (and second half) was all about Chris Paul and the “Inside the NBA” crew was gushing about Paul before, in the middle and after the game.
“A starter has to do that on the road,” Charles Barkley said of Paul’s first half performance (22 points at half, 6-of-6 from 3-point range). “He’s the best leader we’ve got in the NBA today.”
Kenny Smith said: “He takes personal challenges very hard. He hears — not the whispers, but the chants — that Russell Westbrook will have his number.”
In the postgame, Barkley said that Paul’s shotmaking kept OKC from getting out and doing what it does best.
“When you’re taking the ball out of bounds and they get a chance to get back, you’re offense is going to suffer,” Barkley said. “Oklahoma City wants to get out and run, and they weren’t able to do that.
“When Chris started making those threes … obviously he’s not gonna make eight or nine threes a game; but if you can make shots against Oklahoma, they’re always going to struggle in the halfcourt, because they’ve got two guys that shoot jumpers. You can play defense against jump shots.”
RUSSELL WESTBROOK TAKEN TO TASK BY TNT TEAM
The "Inside the NBA" crew took Russell Westbrook to task for not joining a huddle during a timeout during the Thunder’s 122-105 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 Monday.
Smith was initially confused by what Westbrook was doing outside of the Thunder huddle during a timeout.
“I’m not sure what Russell Westbrook is doing in this huddle,” Smith said.
Studio host Ernie Johnson said, “He’s not in it.”
Smith then thought Westbrook was waiting on a towel outside of a huddle, but took a second pass at the Thunder guard after a few seconds of air time.
“What if we change the defenses while you’re sitting over there, and you go back in the game and you don’t know that we changed the defense?” Smith said.
Westbrook sitting outside the huddle during a timeout wasn’t the first of its kind during the postseason. Toronto Raptors guard DeMar Derozan was also caught sitting outside of the huddle during a timeout in the Raptors’ first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets.
TNT’S SMITH: PERK A KEY IN THE SERIES
Smith looked for silver lining for the Thunder in the loss, saying that holding Clippers center DeAndre Jordan to just five rebounds was a victory inside for Kendrick Perkins.
Jordan entered Game 1 with a 15.1 rebounds per game average this postseason.
“As much as we have joked about Kendrick Perkins at times on the show, I think he’s gonna be a valuable member,” Smith said. “DeAndre Jordan with only five rebounds in a blowout — he still played significant minutes — that’s key. Because he (Jordan) has to hit the offensive glass and defensive glass for them to win the series.”
CLIPPERS GET LOFTY COMPARISON FROM TNT’S KERR
Following a blistering first quarter from the Clippers in which they took a 14-point lead, TNT analyst Steve Kerr compared the Clippers to the San Antonio Spurs of 2012.
Remember that team? That season, the Spurs were playing brilliant offensive basketball in the first two games of the Western Conference finals against the Thunder before losing four games in a row.
“The Clippers move the ball like the Spurs do,” Kerr said during the second quarter. “I think it’s a similar challenge.
“The passing, the execution. This is everything the Clippers could want.”
One difference in this series and the Spurs-Thunder series of 2012 is the speed of both teams.
“In this series, unless you’re sure you’re gonna get an offensive board, you’ve got to get back,” Kerr said.
MARV ALBERT (UGLY) FACT OF THE NIGHT
At the 1:49 mark of the second quarter, veteran play-by-play man Marv Albert announced that the 67 points allowed in the half was the most given up in franchise history by the Thunder (since relocating to OKC). The Thunder ended up giving up 69 points in the first half.