Life was simpler when the Los Angeles Clippers used to suck. But the Clippers don’t suck anymore — haven’t for a long time — and they rolled up 44 points in the second quarter of this afternoon skirmish to take a 72-68 lead into the locker room, radio guy Matt Pinto intoning solemnly that the Clips hadn’t lost a game all year in which they’d made nine treys.
They didn’t lose this one, either; thirteen 3-point attempts succeeded, out of 30 tries, and the Clips, after a 112-112 tie with three minutes left, finished with a 13-5 run to give them a 125-117 win over the Thunder and two out of three in the season series, with one to go.
Doc Rivers, recipient of one of three Clippers technicals, played only nine men, and the four reserves scored only nine. It didn’t matter: the two lowest-scoring starters, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul, had 18 points each and double-doubles for their effort. Jamal Crawford led the Clips with a startling 36.
OKC was just about as good from outside the circle — 12-29, including five in a row from Derek Fisher — but too many short-range shots failed to connect. Kevin Durant, who played all but two minutes, led all players with 42, though he missed his last two foul shots, either of which would have tied the game at the time. Serge Ibaka managed 20 points out of 10-16 shooting; Russell Westbrook, still restricted to 25 minutes, went 3-13 for 13 points but did manage six assists. Steven Adams, starting in place of Kendrick Perkins, turned in a Perkazoid line: one point, one block, six rebounds. The problem, as it seemed to me, is that they could block either the long ball or the paint, but not both, and the Clips are adept enough to shift from one possibility to the other without having to hand over the ball.
Next four games at home include two potential creampuffs (Cleveland, Philadelphia), one potential problem (Charlotte), and one genuine difficulty (Memphis).