LOS ANGELES-This was probably not the Mother’s Day celebration that Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder had in mind. Durant scored 40 points against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 4 of the Western Conference second round playoff game.
Looking back, Durant probably should have scored more than that after being guarded by Chris Paul for a large chunk of the game. Clippers coach Doc Rivers called it “desperation coaching.”
As it was, Durant and the Thunder blew a 22-point lead and fell in the defeat to the Clippers, 101-99, at Staples Center in front of a sellout out crowd. This was the Thunder’s game to take. The Clippers, for the most part, fumbled and stumbled for the greater part of three quarters against the Thunder, a team looking like it was on cruise control throughout stretches of the game.
Then the floor went out from under the Thunder’s legs. The Thunder suffered an enormous lapse during their comfort zone, lost their edge and allowed the Clippers to mount a major come-from-behind victory in from of their home crowd. Durant, Russell Westbrook, coach Scott Brooks and the Thunder don’t have anyone to blame for this defeat except for themselves.
Ineptitude don’t even come close to describing the Thunder’s monumental collapse in Game 4. The Clippers, of course, had something to do with. But there are some things in life that you don’t get back. Instead of rolling to a 3-1 playoff series lead, the Thunder are now in a fight for their postseason lives against the Clippers. There are now three games remaining in the series-two on OKC’s homecourt.
That doesn’t mean anything since Paul and the Clippers sent shockwaves throughout Oklahoma and the NBA by winning Game 1. For the early part of Game 4, it certainly didn’t matter to the Thunder. The Clippers were in the midst of a horrific three-point shooting display for the game (3-21) and couldn’t get out of their own way. But sloppy execution on the part of the Thunder would allow the Clippers to creep back into the game in the fourth quarter, where they exploded to score 38 points.
Leading the way was Darren Collison, who scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter. Blake Griffin added 10 of his 25 points in the period as well. And pretty much down stretch it became the Griffin and Collison Show. Collison scored eight of those 12 points with less than three minutes remaining in the game.
“We’ve had wins like this throughout the season,” Collison said. “We’ve been here before. Doc has been telling us all series long, it’s a long game. We stuck with it. The good thing about it is that even though we didn’t play well throughout the game, we was able to get a win. That feels more impressive than anything we did.
Griffin deferred to the way played defense down the stretch that earned the team this victory.
“Hopefully, we kind of remember what got us this win. It was our rotations, defensively. It was the way we were talking, the way we believed, the way we moved the ball. The ball just found an open man on offense. We weren’t trying to force anything down the stretch in the fourth quarter.”