Let there be defense

Because, you know, there wasn’t a whole lot of offense going on, especially for OKC in the third, a problem that’s been building since opening night. The Thunder led 49-41 at the half, but twelve minutes later were down 66-65. Sixteen-point third quarters, I need hardly point out, are not something you find on the Road to Happiness. And in the Clippers, you have arguably the NBA’s finest thespians: a stray breeze can knock almost any of them to the floor, and several apparently did.

Still, both these teams were undefeated (3-0) coming in, and it was reasonable to assume one of them would still be so at the buzzer. (Compare this to, say, Game Seven of the World Series, which went on for four and a half hours, including a rain delay. Oh, and congratulations to the Cubbies. See you again in 2124.) The Thunder really didn’t lock down, though, until very late in the fourth quarter; a pullup jumper by Russell Westbrook (who else?) put OKC up 85-81 with 18 seconds left. DeAndre Jordan managed a late layup; Chris Paul knocked Westbrook out of bounds. The Mighty Zero somehow missed two late free throws, but only one-tenth of a second remained, and that was the end of that. Oklahoma City Thunder 85, Los Angeles Clippers 83, and OKC remains undefeated. (Who else in the NBA might still be undefeated? Right: Cleveland.)

No triple-double for Westbrook (35-6-5); in fact, the only double-double on the floor was CP3’s, with 15 points — team-high for the Clips — and 11 rebounds. The new guy, Jerami Grant, imported from Philadelphia in a swap for Ersan Ilyasova, played 17 minutes and scored six, not bad considering no one on the Thunder bench scored more than six. (Alex Abrines pulled it off in a mere two shots.)

Up the Coast Thursday, to Golden State, where drama is expected. There might even be some. You never know.





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