Thunder squandered a chance to take total control of its series against Clippers

The Clippers won 101-99, knotting the series 2-2 and sending the Thunder back to OKC with the despondent feeling of knowing it blew this game in the worst possible way.
by Berry Tramel Published: May 11, 2014


photo - Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (35) walks slowly to the bench for timeout after Los Angeles' Darren Collison (2) dunked the ball in the fourth quarter during Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals in the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Sunday, May 11, 2014. The Clippers won 101-99. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (35) walks slowly to the bench for timeout after Los Angeles' Darren Collison (2) dunked the ball in the fourth quarter during Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals in the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Sunday, May 11, 2014. The Clippers won 101-99. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

“We got to get back,” said Russell Westbrook. “Gave up too many layups. They got too many easy baskets, especially when we had the lead.”

It’s not like the Thunder was avalanched by vintage Clippers. Doc Rivers went with a screwball lineup of Paul, Griffin, Crawford, Danny Granger and Darren Collison. A mighty mite quintet that played with its hair on fire. The Thunder did not respond. The Thunder shriveled.

This no longer is a young team. This is a veteran team. This team has been through the playoff rigors. There was no excuse for this.

Durant let Paul get under his skin. Think about it. One of the keys to victory for LA was having a 5-foot-11 guard cover the 6-11 Durant. The Thunder offense stagnated. The Thunder defense wilted. Brooks seemed to stand on the sideline and fiddle. Foreman Scotty finally put defensive stopper Thabo Sefolosha back in the game with 2:57 left, but it was too late. The Clipper layup drill was on full assembly line status.

And now a series that would have been all but over has gone from a marathon to a sprint. A three-game series. The Thunder has homecourt advantage. But the Clippers have the mental edge, knowing they won Game 1 in a rout and Game 4 in what should have been a Thunder rout.

If the Thunder loses this series, Game 4 will no longer be hard to stomach. It will be impossible to forget.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at . He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

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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