Defenseless Thunder Clobbered By Clippers
By Randy Renner
It looked pretty good going into the game.
The Clippers were playing without Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford. Chris Paul was a bit gimpy with a bruised knee. Oh and the first couple of times these teams played each other the Thunder barely lost out in La-La Land and ran over and around the Clips in an OKC blowout win last month.
So yeah, most everyone liked the Thunder's chances. And then the game started.
The Clips jumped out to a big 17-point lead early because the Thunder couldn't stop their pick-and-roll plays and couldn't defend the 3-point line. It got better quickly when the Thunder also got hot from beyond the arc and halfway through the second quarter OKC had clawed all the way back to tie the game at 47.
Turns out most of the crowd, which left early anyway, probably should have left right then because the wheels came off the Thunder bus and the game went right into the ditch on the next few possessions.
By the start of the fourth quarter the Thunder were down 20 and showing no signs of life or interest in making a come back.
120-108 was the final verdict, it was first time since February 21st that the Clippers had scored that many points.
But the Thunder are starting to get into a bad habit of allowing a lot of points lately. Over the last seven games OKC is giving up a whopping 111.9 points a game and they've lost four of those seven contests.
Wednesday night the Thunder couldn't seem to get anything right on defense and coach Scott Brooks didn't sugar coat the problem areas, “Transition points, pick-and-roll coverage, stopping the ball, I thought they had too many blow-bys, pindowns, all over the floor defensively we struggled tonight.”
Certainly give the Clippers some credit. Paul and J.J Redick were brilliant. CP3 torched the Thunder for 33 points while dishing nine assists and Redick dropped in 25 while handing out seven helpers.
“I thought Redick was the most valuable player tonight,” Brooks said. “He controlled the game. Chris Paul, as good as he played, (Redick’s) numbers show it. We were chasing him. We were never in front of him. We have to do a better job. When we are locked in we have to do a better job on guys like Redick.”
Compounding the defensive lapses were 20 turnovers on offense, 10 of them by superstar Russell Westbrook.
“Russ had a rough night turning the ball over,” Brooks said. “He’s been good. He’s been beyond good for a long time. It wasn’t one of his better nights. He’ll bounce back.”
He needs to bounce back from his last couple of games, remember he had nine turnovers in Sunday's win over Toronto, but a win and a triple-double helped disguise the turnovers that night.
The other problem the Thunder have had while living their basketball lives on the edge without Kevin Durant is they have struggled to beat good teams.
The Thunder are 12-10 this season in games when Westbrook has played but Durant has not. Most of those wins though have come against teams that were below .500 (9-1) but against teams at .500 or better the Thunder are now just 3-9.
Durant will be out at least another week. Brooks said KD's latest medical re-evaluation was finished up earlier in the day Wednesday, "we hope to have him back in a week, maybe two," Brooks said.
As great as Westbrook has been in KD's absence (and he's been fabulous) the Thunder will need both their superstars, not to mention some defense, to make sure their season extends past April 15th.