Thunder Defense late To The Party
The Thunder defense finally showed up in the fourth quarter and held the L.A. Clippers to just 29.4 percent shooting.
Unfortunately that's when the Thunder offense went bye-bye, shooting just 31.8 percent and the Clips escaped with a 125-117 win.
It's the most points given up by Oklahoma City this season and it spoiled a 42-point, 10-assist game from Kevin Durant, the first time in his career he's had a game like that and it's just the second time in franchise history a player has had a 40-point, 10 assist game. Gary Payton, from the old Seattle days is the other.
The Clippers got huge games from Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes. Crawford dropped 36 points on the Thunder, one shy of his season-high, and Barnes also missed his season high by a point with 24. Former OU star Blake Griffin had 20 and both Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan finished with 18 points. Jordan added a dozen rebounds and Paul a dozen assists, despite a sprained right thumb.
The Thunder have played two games since the All-Star break and lost both because the defense was lacking.
The first half was the worst, embarrassingly bad for a Thunder team that prides itself so much on defense. In the first 24 minutes the Clippers shot 65.9 percent and scored 72 points. In the second quarter LA scored 44 points on a stunning 76.2 percent shooting.
"We've gotta get back to playing defensive basketball," said a disappointed head coach Scott Brooks. "We gave up 44 points in a quarter, that's sometimes a half for us."
The Thunder were helpless to even slow down the Clippers transition game in the first half. LA scored 27 fast break points on 12-for-12 shooting.
"Too many transition points early gave them a comfort zone. They got hot early and were tough to turn off."
Things did turn around though in the second half. The Thunder went on a nice 13-4 run to close out the third quarter and actually managed to fight all the way back from 15 down to take a 115-112 lead with 2:43 to play.
The comeback was fueled by four Derek Fisher 3-pointers in the second half and a big three from Durant.
But KD then missed his only free throws of the game at the 1:40 mark and Crawford buried his fifth 3-pointer of the day at the other end to give LA a lead they would not surrender.
Thunder point guards Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson had tough shooting days. Westbrook scored 13 points on 3-for-13 and Jackson seven points on 3-for-12.
Steven Adams, filling in at center for the injured Kendrick Perkins, wasn't much of a factor with one point and six rebounds in 16 minutes of playing time.
The Thunder now will have a couple of days to practice and see if they can bring back the defensive mojo.
Our cameras were in the lockerroom after the game. To check out what Coach Brooks, Russ and Thabo Sefolosha had to say, click here.