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.