Los Angeles—The Los Angeles Clippers missed out on a golden opportunity; a chance to control the series with a victory over Oklahoma City just went out the window.
All season long Clippers coach Doc Rivers have preached defense, defense, defense. Well, on Friday night the Clippers fell victim to the Thunder simply because they did not show up on the defensive end, which resulted into a 118-112 disappointing loss.
“Defensively, if somebody is scoring 118 points, we obviously have to play defense better and I have to coach defense better,” Rivers said. “They shot above 50 percent. We didn’t. I thought that was the difference in the game. But they got everything. They got 3s, layups, key second shots. Down the stretch, they made every big play. Every
shot they needed went in.”
Kevin Durant had a competent MVP performance, scoring 36 points, Russell Westbrook added 23 points and dished out 13 assists, and Serge Ibaka added 20 points for the Thunder.
Blake Griffin had a flashy game scoring 34 points. Chris Paul who orchestrated the offense chipped in 21 points and handed out 16 assists. Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford was efficient off the bench adding 20 points. But unfortunately, the Clippers style of play on offense didn’t matter because they didn’t live up to the expectations on defense.
The Thunder out rebounded the Clippers 33-44. If the Clippers want to survive in this series, they have to control the boards. Los Angeles Clippers big man De Andre Jordan has to be more active on the floor taking advantage of his height and strength defensively. Westbrook and Durant combined for 16 rebounds and Jordan had a total of eleven.
That’s not sexy. Jordan should have over sixteen rebounds alone in one game.
“We have to fight better defensively. I have to do a better job tonight watching film, said Rivers.” Obviously you don’t want to recreate the wheel, you don’t want to do a lot of changes. There’s a couple things we have to do in pick’n roll coverage to improve. That’s about it.”
After looking like the better team in Game 1, abashing the Thunder on their home floor, beating the No.2 seeded team in the West by 17 points, the Clippers has fallen behind 2-1 in the series. In order for the Clippers to succeed in Game 4- they must do what they did in Game 1; share the basketball, play physical, and most importantly, put a body on Durant and Westbrook and play defense.
“We just have come out ready to play,” Paul said. “It’s a tough one here, but we need to get Game 4. It’s like a must-win for us. We knew that we were going to have to win at least one there, and now we’re going to have to win two there. We’re going to have to start off with a Game 4 win.”