Two-thirds of the way through this game, with the Clippers leading by 25, it occurred to me: the Thunder think they’re still playing the Grizzlies. Their pace, if not Memphis-lugubrious, was downright stolid; their defense was almost adequate to deal with the likes of Courtney Lee; they gathered roughly 60 percent of the available rebounds; their shooting was not too far short of 50 percent. None of these characteristics were worth a hoot against a Los Angeles team that shot well over 50 percent all night, with Chris Paul, supposedly a touch below optimum due to a frayed hamstring, pretty much able to enforce his will. Paul, in fact, sat with :38 left in the third quarter, having knocked down 32 points — 8-9 from across the street — in less than 29 minutes; he was getting ready to come back in when the reserves obligingly dropped in six points on two shots and Doc Rivers decided that matters were not so urgent after all. It got bad enough that the Thunder fouled DeAndre Jordan on four possessions, three of them consecutive, in a desperate attempt to get stops; it got bad enough that a Caron Butler trey early in the fourth drew no “Thunder money ball” call from radio guy Matt Pinto. OKC lost it by seventeen, 122-105, but by no means did it seem anywhere near that close.
Oh, you think we need a Telltale Statistic? How about this? Clippers sixth man Jamal Crawford contributed 17 points; Thunder sixth man Reggie Jackson got his first bucket with 2:28 left in the fourth. Neither Russell Westbrook nor Kevin Durant had a bad night — between them, 18-33 for 54 points; but that means that the other nine guys got only 51. (See Jackson, R., supra.) That Butler trey? Only shot he made all night. Does that justify giving the starting shooting-guard position back to Thabo Sefolosha? Maybe. Thabo at least had five points, in two-thirds the playing time.
There were other unfavorable stats. Assists? L.A. 26, OKC 17. Turnovers? OKC 17, L.A. 8. Steals? L.A. 8, OKC 5. Players in double figures? L.A. five (CP3, Crawford, Barnes, J. J. Redick, and Blake Griffin with 23), OKC three (KD, Westbrook, Serge Ibaka with 12). The Oklahoman sport staff were unanimous: Thunder in seven. At this rate, it will take more like nine or ten.