They could’ve folded multiple times. They could’ve have used the escuse of the second night of a back-to-back. The Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t do that and used a 12-0 run to start the fourth quarter to separate themselves en route to a 127-117 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night.
Oklahoma City improves to a 21-17 on the season and now has won 14 of their last 19 games. It’s a stark contrast from the first 20 games, where the Thunder were four games under .500.
The come back really wasn’t on the backs of Russell Westbrook and Co. It was the rotational players that stepped up. Jerami Grant and Raymond Felton took turns bashing the Clippers.
It wasn’t until after four minutes were gone in the fourth Lou Williams hit a three, cutting the nine-point lead down to six and Thunder head coach had to put the starters back in.
From there, that’s where OK3 took over. Paul George on a reverse lay up. Followed by a Westbrook jumper. The Big Three combined for the Thunder’s final 21 points.
Over the final 7:01 of the game, Oklahoma City shot 8-of-13 (61.5 perent) and went 3-of-4 from deep. The clutch factor for the Thunder went off the charts. Despite it being the second night of a back-to-back, Oklahoma City closed out a tough Clippers team.
It almost didn’t appear so. Early in the second quarter, the Clippers made a run and put L.A. up 13 points mid second quarter, leading 50-37 with 7:17 left until halftime.
Oklahoma City responded with a 27-14 blow up to end the half, tying the game on a Westbrook pull up three-pointer with 32 seconds left.
Westbrook would finish with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for this 13th triple-double of the season and 92nd of his career.
Oklahoma City found a way to end the NBA’s longest winning streak. With the Clippers losing, the Boston Celtics now have the longest win streak at four games.
The Thunder are tied for the NBA’s best record of the last 10 games, going 8-2. Only Toronto and Golden State can boast the same.
George, who scored 42 in the previous win over the Clippers this season, scored 31 points on a super efficient 12-of-16 from the floor. He also knocked down 5-of-8 from beyond the three-point line. He moved with easy like a crocodile wading through the water looking for his kill.
And there was Carmelo Anthony. The Olympic Melo has continued to find his way on the court. Anthony had 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. What’s even more impressive, besides his curse words on the post game show, was Anthony’s zero turnovers.
Oklahoma City now heads to the desert, taking on Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns. That tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. We’ll have all of your game day coverage.
Keys to the Game
Third quarter: B
While the Thunder didn’t win the third, lost by three points, it was how they played. There were no spiraling meltdowns. Oklahoma City held a lead throughout a chunk of the quarter but foul trouble caught up to them. If this would’ve been tied or had the Thunder led, you would’ve given the A or A+ to Oklahoma City.
Share the ball: A
Oklahoma City had 23 assists and if it wasn’t for foul trouble this would’ve been significantly higher. Oklahoma City had 23 assists tonight but did not win the battle. However, it’s how they were done is where the damage was more important. The big run in the fourth quarter was key.
With the bigs of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, the Thunder were the smaller team but they won the rebounding battle, by one board, but they gave up 29 second chance points on 15 offensive rebounds. Some nights it won’t matter with how their bigs play. Tonight was that night.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Our Podcast is on iTunes. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!