The Los Angeles Clippers were unable to disrupt the dominance of Russell Westbrook, losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder 85-83 on Wednesday, Nov. 2.
Russell Westbrook ended the night with 35 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists while hitting a jump shot with 18.7 seconds left to seal the game.
The Thunder leapt out to an eight-point lead in the first quarter behind 16 points from their backcourt duo of Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo. Los Angeles answered back with a Marreese Speights three pointer and Jamal Crawford’s floater in the lane to give the Clippers a 24-23 lead heading into the second period.
Despite seven points off of the bench from Raymond Felton, the Clippers were unable to control the game in the second quarter, with Westbrook exploding for 10 points and making four of his five field goal attempts.
Blake Griffin led the Clippers into the second half, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the third quarter alone. Griffin would finish the game with a solid all around outing of 14 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists.
Chris Paul had trouble defending Westbrook throughout, forcing head coach Doc Rivers to elect Six Man of the Year Jamal Crawford as the Clippers first line of defense against the tenacious guard for most of the night.
The Clippers finished the third quarter with a surge of momentum that was capped off by a miraculous half court heave from Brandon Bass at the buzzer, giving the Clippers a 65-66 lead heading into the fourth.
Los Angeles opened up the final period strong, with Austin Rivers, Speights and Crawford finding easy baskets to give them a 74-73 lead with under eight minutes remaining in the game.
Paul excited the raucous Staples Center crowd with back to back jump shots, giving the Clippers a 78-76 lead over the Thunder with 5:56 remaining, only to have Domantas Sabonis’ quiet the arena with a timely three-pointer.
J.J. Redick’s three-point shot brought the Clippers within two points with one-minute remaining, but an increasingly Kobe-esque Westbrook capped off the game for the Thunder in the end.
Paul led the Clippers offensively, nearly earning a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists. Speights scored 14 points while coming off of the bench for Los Angeles.
Oladipo was Oklahoma City’s second highest scorer, racking up nine points in the win.
The Thunder have now won four straight games, and remain undefeated heading into Thursday’s highly anticipated matchup against the Golden State Warriors. Former teammates Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant will meet for the first time since Durant spurned Oklahoma City in free-agency, opting to sign with the team that eliminated the duo from last year’s Western Conference Finals.
Thunder head coach Billy Donovan was complimentary of his superstar after the game, citing the contagiousness of Westbrook’s competitive drive.
“He’s been great.” Donovan said. Just being around him and seeing his commitment to his teammates, his leadership and his competitive fire rubbing off on his teammates, it’s been great to watch. What he’s doing statistically is amazing, but as a coach, I’ve been impressed with his leadership.”
The Clippers are now 3-1 on the season and will travel to Memphis next, facing the Grizzlies in the first of a two-game road trip on Friday, Nov. 4.
Joey Thomas is a Los Angeles native and an NBA junkie. Follow him on twitter and instagram @joeythomasss