After the Clippers thrashed the Thunder in Los Angeles Saturday night, you might have expected a certain urgency this evening. The first quarter, which ended with the Clips up 31-21, didn’t show a whole lot of it. OKC began battening it down, and worked their way to a twelve-point lead in the fourth quarter. But The Other L. A. Team always does well against the Thunder, and they put together a 10-2 run at the end, topped off with a Blake Griffin dunk, followed by some excellent harassment on the inbound. But it wouldn’t go beyond that, and Oklahoma City officially clinched the Northwest Division title with the 112-108 win.
I think by now we’ve learned that the Clips are a bit more than just Griffin’s backup squad. The Blakester did knock down 35 points, a game high, but five of his teammates broke into double figures, and Los Angeles shot just over 50 percent for the night. And if Griffin has perhaps too much ham in him — the man hangs on the rim like he’s glued there — he works his tail off. (And DeAndre Jordan, who normally doesn’t hang on the rim, lingered a bit too long once and got T’d up for it. Go figure.)
The Thunder offense, as usual, was mostly Kevin Durant (29 points) and Russell Westbrook (26); Serge Ibaka made it to 15. Meanwhile, Kendrick Perkins was pulling down 17 boards, 10 off the offensive glass. While OKC didn’t shoot especially well — 43 percent — they hit 25 of 29 freebies for 86 percent. If you pay attention to plus/minus, the Thunder bench was plus, and so was Westbrook, but everyone else was on the wrong side of the ledger.
So it’s a 2-2 split with the Clips this season. I get the feeling that they’re one season away from contending for a playoff slot — and that they always will be. For now, though, we have to sweat the second rematch of the week: against Denver, albeit here in the Quarter-Mile-High City, a friendlier milieu by far.