The Clippers have been erratic of late, but you have to figure that any time Chris Paul gets hot, things will happen for them. And CP3 was the hottest he’s been, posting a season-high 32 points with ten assists. Add to that a Los Angeles bench, lightly regarded and without both Paul Pierce and Austin Rivers, that had no trouble fending off the Oklahoma City reserves, and you have the makings of a debacle. With 4:40 left, though, it was tied at 89-all, and 2:20 later, it was still tied at 93; at the one-minute mark, the Clips were up 95-93. Coming off a timeout, Russell Westbrook nailed an all-too-rare trey; a Blake Griffin dunk made it 97-96 L.A. Westbrook went up over DeAndre Jordan to put OKC up 98-97, and with 14 seconds left, Westbrook pulled off his third steal of the night. But the inbound went awry, CP3 ran it down to the rim and made it 99-98 Los Angeles with 10.9 left. Finally Kevin Durant — remember him? — buried an 18-footer to go up 100-99 at 5.8. (Are we tired yet?) Paul put it up at the horn, Durant swatted it away, and that was the end of it.
How close was it? Clippers shot 47%, OKC 47%. Clippers got 45 rebounds, OKC 44. Assists were even at 21. And if Paul had a season-high 32, Westbrook finished with 33. If you’d plotted this for a TV drama, people would stare in disbelief: five lead changes in two and a half minutes? Really? And take note of this off night for KD: 24 points, nine rebounds, seven assists. You and I should have such off nights.
One more in L.A. this week: the Lakers, last thrashed in OKC last week. The Thunder will be home for Christmas, against the Chicago Bulls.