Okay, it wasn’t that easy, and both Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups were conspicuous by their absence, but the Thunder finally found a way to beat the Clippers in Los Angeles: don’t miss a lot of shots. The Clips weren’t going to give it away, and OKC harshed their own mellow by two consecutive moving-screen fouls didn’t we see this in Denver day before yesterday? but the Thunder held on for a 109-97 win.
A lot of shots were indeed not missed. OKC shot 53 percent, and hit an implausible 15 of 27 treys. That’s
an Academy a franchise record. The Clips, however, shut down the Thunder’s free-throw machine by the simple expedient of not fouling: OKC attempted 14, half their average, and made 12. Both Kevin Durant (12-19, 32 points) and Russell Westbrook (9-19, 26) had good nights, but the man at the top of the plus/minus tower was glue guy Nick Collison (+20), who played more than 40 minutes, largely because Kendrick Perkins rolled up four fouls in less than seven minutes.
In the absence of their major playmakers, Blake Griffin assumed a lot of the load for L.A., and he racked up a season-high 31 points. The Clips kept their hands on the ball, generally only 10 turnovers but Eric Bledsoe, good as he was (12 points, four assists) just isn’t CP3. The L.A. bench did outscore the OKC reserves, 38-25.
The West Coast swing continues tomorrow night at Golden State, the team that beat the Clippers on Monday. It’s not going to get any easier.