It was a maddening game in March but the Oklahoma City Thunder were able to sweep the Los Angeles Clipper in the regular season in a 121-113 win.
its the first time Oklahoma City hasn’t sept the Clippers since the 2012-13 season.
The Thunder stand 42-29 on the season, currently positioned at the fourth seed. With 11 games left, and the Western Conference still in chaos, now is not the time to let up off the gas.
The Thunder fumbled around in the first quarter with bad turnovers and missed shots, allowing the Clippers to go on an 8-0 run. Finally, Corey Brewer was the one to tell Chesapeake Arena to take a seat.
Through the first quarter shooting woes of Westbrook, Anthony and George, it appeared that Adams and Brewer were doing all of the work along with some assistance from Patterson and Felton.
The Clippers led 30-27 at the end of the first.
As the second quarter rolled around the bench continued to bring energy and hustle. Jerami Grant was able to make cuts to the basket for layups. Ferguson and Felton let their shots fall and Patterson was reliable to sink threes from beyond the arc. It was encouraging to see an offensively productive bench.
The energy was able to carry through up until halftime where the Thunder led 63-56.
At the half, Westbrook, Anthony and George had shot a combined 2-of-16. So, not the best.
After the half, things got really weird.
George was able to start a scoring rhythm. Brewer continued to look like an All-Star with his hustle, cutting and stealing. Boban Marjanovic made Steven Adams look like a small child in the post.
At one point in the third quarter the Clippers had cut the Thunders lead down to 76-74. That was the closest they would get.
In the fourth there were glimpses of plays that every Thunder fan was familiar with. Westbrook driving to the basket, Anthony hitting a catch-and-shoot three, Steven Adams dunking over his victims, and Brewer running around like the Energizer Bunny trying to make plays and steal the ball.
All of this added up to the 121-113 win over the Clippers, making it a five-game winning streak, along with Westbrook obtaining his 101st triple-double, the 22nd on the season.
That being said the biggest takeaways from tonight’s game didn’t come from the OK3 or Steven Adams. Instead they came from Brewer and the bench.
Corey Brewer finished tonight with 22 points and six steals, a career high. It’s no question that Brewer has Oklahoma City new energy. He seems to leave it all out on the court, quickly stealing fans hearts due to his hustle and scoring potential.
It is an energy that has not been at the starting shooting guard position for some time. Even with Andre Roberson, the offense seemed to be playing teams four on five, utilizing Roberson for his occasional cut but primarily defense. With Brewer starting in wake of Roberson’s injury, teams now must make all five players a priority to defend.
The Thunder bench had a big part of winning the game tonight with a combined 37 points from shooting 15-of-26. Ferguson was a bright spot with 12 points shooting 4-of-6 with a slam dunk and an interesting “toe-touch” layup to help get him there.
While the stars didn’t have a necessarily great night, they were still able to show glimpse of their talent, just not on a high scoring level. It was an off night for them, luckily, they had backup.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Moving the ball: B
The ball was flying everywhere across the court tonight, some good some bad. The Thunder’s starting lineup had all 14 turnovers. Fortunately there were 30 assists so the team was looking for open shots, many of which were corner threes. There was not a lot of standing around or ball hogging either. The ball made its way around the arc until an opening presented itself.
Be aggressive on defense: B+
The beginning of the game had a lot of open shots and scoring runs for the Clippers. After some recalibrating the Thunder were able to start blocking shots and get steals. Adams had five blocks, three steals, and Brewer had six steals of his own. The aggression was clearly shown in the form of court awareness.
Simply show up: B-
Though Westbrook got a triple-double and Paul George had 17 points it was an off night for them. Anthony only had nine points off of 11 attempts. The only two starters who made half their shots were Adams (8-of-15) and Brewer (7-of-12). The players that actually showed up tonight were on the bench, keeping the team afloat. While Oklahoma City pulled away with the win, they can’t afford for their starters be off their game anymore.
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