Rather a lot of WTF moments at the Staples Center tonight, starting with a fistful of technicals, including a pair of offsetting Ts (Blake Griffin and Nick Collison) and one to each coach. Of course, one could also ask how it is that the Thunder were up twelve at the half and were down two fourteen minutes later, but that’s a bit more easily explainable: at least once in every game, everything just jells for the Clippers and they put together a seriously impressive run. If they could do that on a consistent basis, they wouldn’t be flirting with the 50-loss mark. Griffin, as almost always, was the top scorer, but Eric Gordon fired a trey with 43 seconds left to break a tie, and after Russell Westbrook fouled out — Serge Ibaka was already gone — Randy Foye iced the game with three out of four from the stripe. It was Clippers 98, Thunder 92, the Other L. A. Team’s second win in three tries over OKC.
In some ways, this game replicated the debacle in Portland the night before: first half good, second half crapola. The Clips outshot the Thunder by three percentage points and got a couple more rebounds, but the X factor here was the general failure of the Thunder starters to execute up to spec. Westbrook hit only one from the floor all night, though he did deliver the ball well (9 dimes); Ibaka scored in double figures, but collected only four boards; Kevin Durant was 10 for 24 and missed all four attempts from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, Griffin had about his twelve thousandth double-double, and DeAndre Jordan got one too. Moreover, the Clippers put up 38 foul shots and collected on 27 of them. (Griffin went 12-18 from the stripe.) The Thunder, which usually can cash in at the foul line, only got 24 shots, 20 of which went. Add to this a six-point advantage in points in the paint, and you start to wonder how come the Clippers didn’t actually turn this into a blowout.
Six games to go, and the first four will be hairy: at Denver, back home the next night against the Clippers, followed two nights later by the Nuggets, and then off to the Left Coast again, to face the Lakers on Sunday and the Kings on Monday. There’s one last home game — against Milwaukee — but right now, Oklahoma City has more to fear than the Deer.