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Thunder shows it's still best in the West

COMMENTARY — The red-hot Clippers came to town, but couldn't beat the defending Western Conference champions.
by Jenni Carlson Published: November 21, 2012

Can't do that against these Clippers.

They are a scary bunch. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin still lead the way with DeAndre Jordan, Willie Green and Matt Barnes riding shotgun, but it's the reserves who make this team scarier than it was a year ago. The Clipper bench is crazy deep.

Eric Bledsoe and Jamal Crawford come off the bench. Ditto for Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf and Ryan Hollins. Each of those guys could start for many teams in the NBA.

Oh, and Caron Butler and Grant Hill are hurt right now.

That gives Los Angeles a dozen very capable players when they're all healthy. There's no other team in the league that can boast as much depth as that.

What's more, the Clippers are aggressive at every position, much like the Grizzlies, and we know how that game against Memphis turned out.

The Thunder played well for about three quarters when the Grizzlies came to town last week.

“But it wasn't enough,” Brooks said.

Not even close.

The Grizzlies took it to the Thunder, stretching the lead and winning going away.

The Clippers could've done the same Wednesday night because of all the challenges they present. Their point guard play. Their interior defense. Their transition game. Their free-throw shooting.

“But,” Brooks said, “we're pretty good ourselves.”

That, the Thunder is, and it proved as much against the Clippers.

"I really like our guys' fight throughout this game," Brooks said. "I didn't see an area where we played passive. We played aggressive. I thought our toughness was on display the entire 48 minutes and the five minutes of overtime."

Westbrook said, "They made some tough shots. They made a few runs. We withstood their runs."

Los Angeles is unbelievably good, but Oklahoma City is still home to the Western Conference champs.


Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at, follow her at or view her personality page at