Thunder's nightmare foe has gotten scarier

Led by former Oklahoma high school and college star Blake Griffin, the Los Angeles Clippers visit OKC on Wednesday night. L.A. is off to a hot start, and poses matchup problems for OKC.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: November 20, 2012
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photo - Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin dunks in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls in Los Angeles, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) ORG XMIT: LAS105
Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin dunks in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls in Los Angeles, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) ORG XMIT: LAS105

The Clippers, on the other hand, have wins against Memphis, the Lakers, San Antonio (twice) and Miami among other teams. Going into Tuesday's games, none of the Clippers' wins came against an opponent that currently has a losing record. L.A.'s wins have come against opponents with a combined 0.602 winning percentage.

“They're good,” Collison said. “I think they're tough on a lot of teams. Chris Paul's obviously very good in pick-and-rolls and he draws a lot of attention. But they've got other talented players around him so they're a tough team to beat.”

In Blake Griffin, who played at OCS and OU, and DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers have two athletic big men who complement Paul perfectly as options in the pick-and-roll game. With both Griffin and Jordan, the Clippers force the Thunder to be locked in at all times defensively or risk giving up momentum-swinging alley-oop dunks. And with Crawford, Barnes, Caron Butler and Willie Green, the Clippers have shooters who can make the Thunder's defense pay if too much emphasis is placed on keeping Paul, Griffin and Jordan out of the paint.

Beyond that, the Clippers' bench has been fabulous, leading all teams with 42.2 points per game — exactly 11 more a night than the Thunder's reserves contribute. Powered by their bench backcourt of Crawford, the team's leading scorer and the front-runner for Sixth Man of the Year, and Bledsoe, the ultra-athletic point guard, the Clippers are outscoring opposing benches by 18.1 points per game, good for second in the league behind Milwaukee.

“Their bench is much better than a year ago, and Bledsoe off the bench is a force,” Brooks said. “He has tenacity, he has toughness (and) he seems to always make the right plays, hustle plays.

“They had a good team last year, but obviously I think they're much better this year.”

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Clippers

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena

TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma (Cox 37/HD 722, DirecTV 679, Dish 416, U-Verse 754/HD 1754), ESPN (Cox 29/HD 720, DirecTV 206, Dish 140, U-Verse 602/HD1602).

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM

Three things to know

* The Thunder is 6-9 all-time against the Clippers, including a 1-3 record in last year's four-game series.

* The Clippers are on a league-best six-game winning streak and are the only remaining unbeaten team on the road this season.

* After averaging a league-worst 18.5 assists last year, the Thunder is now averaging 22.4 assists, good for seventh in the league before Tuesday's games. The Thunder is coming off back-to-back games of a recording a season-high 31 assists.

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