The word came in early: Victor Oladipo would be back, and Blake Griffin would be out. “Hmmm,” I hmmmed. And when the “questionable” Chris Paul was no longer a question — he was out — the only question left would be when the Judge delivered a Blowout Warning. It might be as early as 8 pm, I decided.
A BLOWOUT WARNING has been issued for Chesapeake Arena in OKC until Midnight CST.
— Judge Radar (@OKCNightCourt) January 1, 2017
Just a hair earlier. Of course, His Honor had seen that first quarter, after which the Thunder were up by a ridiculous 33-12. It was 69-40 at the half, Russell Westbrook already had a triple-double in hand — he finished with 17-12-14 and would not play in the fourth quarter — and the depleted Clippers would not present a threat in the second half anyway. Then again, this week has been a comedy of errors for the Angelenos, who last night at Houston saw Austin Rivers thumbed, and sixty seconds later saw Doc Rivers, Clippers coach and Austin’s dad, similarly broomed. Then again, the Clips did put up 116 points against the Rockets while losing by 24; tonight, against the Thunder, they lost by 26 in a 114-88 game, putting OKC up 2-1 in the season series. And weirdly, Westbrook managed to draw his 11th technical foul of the season without even being on the court; he and L.A.’s Mareese Speights apparently got into a spate of mutual trash talk, and Speights was similarly rung up.
The Clipper reserves, really, kept things from being even worse than they were; both Speights and Brandon Bass came up with 18 points to lead the team. Only one starter — Rivers, who went 3-11 for 14 points — scored in double figures, and I’m damned if I can figure out how J. J. Redick would finish with a mere five and Jamal Crawford with a goose egg. For the home team, Oladipo wasn’t even rusty after being off; he went 4-9 for 15 points. However, his place on the injured list was taken by Alex Abrines, who collected 12 points, 4-5 on treys, and then went down under the basket while being fouled; he’s been thrown into the NBA’s concussion protocol. The big point man once again was a big: Enes Kanter, with 23, including 11 of 12 free throws. And here’s your Telltale Statistic: Thunder 33, Clippers 0 (yes, zero) in fast-break points.
And now, it’s back on the road, starting Monday night at Milwaukee.