Thunder Take Control Of Series
By Randy Renner
On a night when the stars were shining in Hollywood the Thunder's supporting cast stepped up to help grab a thrilling 118-112 win over the Los Angeles Clippers and put OKC in control of the series for now.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 59 Thunder points and Chris Paul and Blake Griffin tossed in 55 for the Clippers so the edge to the Thunder was only slight.
But the Clippers bench got most of its production from Jamal Crawford, who had 20 points on a terrible 6-for-18 shooting night. The rest of their bench players managed just eight points and all together the Clips bench could only help out with four rebounds.
The Thunder got 14 points apiece from Reggie Jackson and Caron Butler to offset Crawford, plus a whopping 17 rebounds from their bench, nine of those from rookie Steven Adams.
Oklahoma City also came up big in the fourth quarter, something an opponent hadn't been able to do all season long at Staples Center against the Clippers.
L.A. was 35-0 this season and in the playoffs when leading at home going into the fourth quarter.
The Clippers used an 8-0 run, mostly thanks to some untimely Thunder fouls, to close out the third quarter and take a 90-86 lead into the final 12 minutes. But the Thunder quickly erased that advantage with an 8-2 start and they never let the Clips catch up again.
The Thunder had never won on the road in the critical Game 3 of a playoff series when the series was tied 1-1, they had been 0-4 in those situations.
Of course the Thunder players probably had no idea about that stat and when Durant, Westbrook and most everyone else are playing at a high level it doesn't what stats from the past say.
Durant put in another MVP style performance, leading all scorers with 36 points on 14-for-24 shooting while grabbing eight rebounds and handing out six assists. Westbrook has been superb since his Game 5 clunker in the Grizzlies series. Russ was in triple-double territory yet again this time finishing with 23 points on 7-for-14 shooting, 13 assists and eight rebounds. He turned it over just twice.
The Thunder dominated that fourth quarter, outscoring the Clippers 32-22. OKC shot 61.1 percent in the final frame while holding the Clippers to just 38.5 percent overall and a mere 12.5 percent (1-for-8) on threes.
The Thunder again dominated on the boards, they've won the rebounding battle in all three games and took advantage of most all their fast break opportunities scoring 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting.
Serge Ibaka and Griffin had a great battle down low, Griffin scored a bunch of points after getting Ibaka in early foul trouble but Serge kept at it and had a very efficient offensive night with 20 points on 9-for-10 shooting. Ibaka is 21-for-29 (72.4 percent) in the series.
Thunder head coach Scott Brooks also made some nice moves, going to a small lineup that created mismatches the Clippers just couldn't deal with.
Overall it was an outstanding performance on the road and now the Thunder can take complete control of the series if they can grab a win on Sunday to send the series back home with a chance to close it out ion Tuesday.