A. Suave Francisco
In another early season heated battle between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers, both teams looked better than they did in the first matchup. As you should know, the Thunder traveled to L.A. earlier in the season and stole one from the Clippers. Well, tonight they came to Oklahoma City and stole one from the Thunder, winning in a nail-biter 110-108.
Unlike the last game, OKC shot great from three at 57.1 percent, better than what they shot overall for the game (43.2 percent) and three unlikely players, Andre Roberson, Victor Oladipo, and Domantas Sabonis helped that percentage by shooting a combined 11-for-19 from three. That trio also combined for 43 points, which helped a struggling Russell Westbrook through three quarters, before he erupted in the fourth, scoring 14 of his 29 points. However, if those three players and Enes Kanter wouldn't have had big games, this would have been a blowout for the Clippers. Westbrook shot a poor 9-for-25 from the field, which has become a trend in these last few games.
What's impressive is the tenacity and growth from this young Thunder team already. Victor Oladipo's reputation throughout his career hasn't been reflective of a good shooter, by any means, but in his last six games in a Thunder uniform, he's shot 52 percent from long distance. Domantas Sabonis has surprised everyone a couple games ago by notching his first double-double as a pro, followed by a 12-point night where he shoots 4-for-5 from three. Semaj Christon doesn't do anything spectacular or appealing to the eye, but he's turning out to be a very solid backup to Westbrook, tonight scoring 9 points and adding 4 assists.
The game was very hard fought. Things started to swing Oklahoma City's way very late in the game with a couple missed free throws by the Clippers, a few missed shots, and a few defensive let-downs. It came down to the final six seconds where Russell Westbrook simply made the wrong call. As he crossed halfcourt, as usual, the entire court cleared out. Jamal Crawford was defending Russell Westbrook for the final play of the game. Taking a look at the play, probably everyone in the arena assumed Russell would simply use his speed to go around Crawford and either get an open layup, dunk, foul, or an and one followed by a free throw to ice the game. Instead, Russell pulled up a couple steps beyond the three-point line and missed. Clippers steal game two of the season series.
OKC falls to (6-3) on the season, which is better than what people expected at this point. Sunday will feature Serge Ibaka's return to the Chesapeake Energy Arena. This time playing for the Orlando Magic. The Thunder shouldn't have a hard time taking care of that game.