This game opened with four players out: Blake Griffin and J. J. Barea for the Clippers, Kendrick Perkins and Anthony Morrow for the Thunder. (Perk, as always the One in One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other, wasn’t injured: he drew a one-game suspension for a head-butting incident involving a New Orleans butthead.) And after the game opened, Glen “Big Baby Davis” departed with back spasms, and Steven Adams dislocated a finger or something. (Adams, who was fouled on the play, came back out of the locker room to hit one of two free throws, just in case he might be able to return. He did not.)
With limited personnel, the strategy becomes simple: hit your shots and keep the other guys from hitting theirs. The third quarter today could serve as an object lesson, the Thunder walloping the Clippers 35-19 for a 101-75 advantage going into the fourth. Three minutes later, Doc Rivers had seen enough, and he started subbing in what subs he had; OKC ran that lead to as much as 32, and finished off the Clips with aplomb, 131-108.
Spencer Hawes, starting at the four in the absence of Griffin, knocked out 17 points in the first half. That’s all he would get. Chris Paul came up with a double-double: 18 points, 13 assists, and perhaps most remarkably, three fouls. (CP3 inevitably took issue with all of them.) Matt Barnes tossed up 15 points; super sixth man Jamal Crawford came up with 21, and little-used C. J. Wilcox grabbed ten in Extended Garbage Time.
For Oklahoma City, the usual guys got their usual numbers: Kevin Durant 29, Russell Westbrook 19 (with 11 assists), Serge Ibaka 13. What was fun was watching Reggie Jackson go 6-6 for 15 points; what was even more fun was watching Mitch McGary, who’d scored four whole points all season, getting the call early and collecting a double-double. Seriously. 19 points on 8-9 shooting, 10 rebounds. (Both McGary and Jackson were +19; Dion Waiters, with 16 points, was +21.) Change of pace: the Thunder reserves, who scored a feeble 11 against New Orleans night before last, this time put up 62. And the Clippers seemed to be suffering from Board Avoidance Syndrome, outrebounded by OKC 54-29.
A quick trip to Denver for a Monday-night scuffle, a visit from the Grizzlies on Wednesday, and it’s the All-Star break. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I definitely need a break.