Last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 110-104.
After losing two consecutive games on the road, the Thunder bounced back at home with a solid performance against the Clippers.
The main key of this win on the second night of a back to back has been without a doubt the defense. Every player on the team played a fantastic game on that end, and even if the Clippers were able to hit threes on an high percentage (13-25, 52%), the Thunder forced Los Angeles to turn the ball over twenty-six times. That’s pretty impressive.
Despite another off night offensively for Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City was able to handle business without too much problems. Paul George, Jerami Grant, Steven Adams, and a good bench production made sure to get things done.
The game was won by the Thunder in the first three quarters. Oklahoma City led by seventeen points entering the last twelve minutes (86-69), then the game got unnecessarily interesting. The Clippers started to hit shots at a higher percentage, the Thunder’s defense gave up a little bit more, and Los Angeles was able to cut the lead to only six points with a bit more than a minute left in the game. However, Oklahoma City was able to close out strong and ended the game with an important win.
- Russell Westbrook
Westbrook is still struggling with scoring. He finished the game with only thirteen points while shooting the ball 4-17 from the floor (3-4 from behind the arc, 2-3 from the FT line, and a miserable 1-13 from two points). Nevertheless, Westbrook contributed in many other ways: he was a force on defense and controlled the tempo close to perfection on offense. To his thirteen points, Russell Westbrook added nine rebounds, twelve assists, and six steals. Also, last night, Westbrook passed Kobe Bryant on the top all-time assists list.
- Paul George
Paul George is playing the best basketball of his career. Yesterday he had another amazing performance. His final stat line: thirty-three points (11-19 FG, 5-9 3PT, 6-8 FT), seven rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block, and zero turnovers. George’s defense is at a DPOY level, and his efficiency on offense has been outstanding in the last few games. If he can keep up with this level, he will certainly be in the MVP conversation, and the Thunder will only benefit from it.
- Jerami Grant
Is there something Jerami Grant can’t do? Against the Clippers, Grant showed that he can score in every way possible: dunks, jump shots, trough contact, and three pointers. In addition to this Grant is a good defender. I am not talking just about blocks, he is taking charges and defending well on the one to one.
- Hamidou Diallo
The Thunder picked up a gem when they traded for Hamidou Diallo. Last night, the Diallo finished with ten points and one rebound in only eleven minutes and a half of playing time. He still doesn’t have a developed jump shot, but he can defenitely attack the basket and finish through contact. His development will be important for Oklahoma City’s future. Hopefully he will be able to play consistent minutes during the remaining of the season.
- Defensive Power
After more than a quarter of the season, Oklahoma City is leading the league in defensive rating at 102.1 and in steals per game at 10.2 per game. Last night, the Thunder forced the Clippers to turn the ball over twenty-six times, OKC had also thirteen steals and seven blocks. If the Thunder can keep up this type of defensive performances, then they will be a top team in the Western Conference without a doubt.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will play on Monday night, at home, against the Chicago Bulls. Tip-off 7 pm CT.