Thunder

Thunder Struggle vs. Clippers, Look Ahead to Detroit

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The Oklahoma City Thunder returned home to Chesapeake Energy Arena to face the Los Angeles Clippers after suffering their worst loss in franchise history against the Milwaukee Bucks. This 47-point loss was a big hit to this Thunder team, but they had a chance to bounce back yesterday… against a fully healthy Clippers squad. Friendly reminder: the Clippers came into this game with a record of 8-0 when playing with their full roster available. Billy Donovan’s boys had a tough one.

 

DOWN TO EARTH

Those three words can sum up not only the loss at Milwaukee but this game as well. The Thunder are good, but not THAT good. The Clips showed in the first quarter why they are a championship contender. They moved the basketball, made excellent defensive plays causing numerous turnovers (15 in the game for OKC), and showed their depth with plenty of bench points. Lou Williams and Kawhi Leonard opened the game for LA offensively, dropping nine and eight points respectively in the first quarter. When the second unit came in for LA, however, Thunder found some opportunities on the offensive end. Well, they were playing against a Williams-Landry Shamet back-court, so there were going to be some opportunities to score. Dennis Schröder was, once again, the much-needed spark off the bench for OKC, scoring seven points.

After that 38-27 first period, OKC picked it up offensively. Schröder and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander started to attack the basket and make plays. Abdel Nader had some very decent minutes — like he has all season — for the Thunder in that second unit. OKC’s groove continued until it was just a one-point game. From that moment onward, the Clippers started to give the ball to Kawhi Leonard on the high post. The Thunder had absolutely no answer for that (despite some good defense from Terrance Ferguson), and LA’s second unit attacked again as well. The Clippers ended the quarter on a 16-2 run to close out the first half leading 59-47.

DIFFERENT HALF, SAME STORY

The third quarter seemed to be copy-pasted from the second. It was literally the same plot: OKC starting on a good note until Kawhi Leonard decides that to be over. A 9-3 run started the quarter for OKC until the offense stalled and couldn’t come back for the rest of the game. Turnovers, taking bad shots, and missing wide-open shots amidst free throw struggles (10-18 in the game) killed every mere illusion of making a comeback. The defense wasn’t bad at all, but the Clippers were just better. Simple as that. Leonard and company got to work again, and closed out the period on a 20-10 run. The fourth quarter wasn’t that much of a difference either.

Kawhi finished the game with 25 points (9/20 from the field) and eight rebounds. Paul George heated up after a quiet first half and finished with 16. Same with Montrezl Harrell, who went down during the third quarter with an ankle injury that didn’t seem serious. On the other hand, Dennis Schröder finished with 24, while SGA and Danilo Gallinari dropped 15 apiece.

The Thunder drop another big game against a contender, but will have the chance to bounce back at Detroit on Wednesday. The Clippers are 5-0 since adding Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson to their rotation, and as mentioned above, undefeated over nine games when having a healthy roster.

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About Santiago Núñez

From Argentina. NBA lover. Journalist (in the process).

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