Clippers and Blake Griffin Explode All Over the Thunder
Brent Barry of NBA TV called it their signature win of the season, even more than their overtime win over the Miami Heat. The Clippers indeed put on a spectacular performance in their 112-100 thrashing over the Oklahoma City Thunder, owners of the best record in the NBA.
It was an improbable win to say the very least. The Clippers had to fight tooth and nail in Denver Sunday night to pull out the 109-105 victory. Then they boarded the airplane to fly home and face a rested Thunder team who last played in Oakland Friday night. So with the Clippers fans packing the STAPLES Center and the Thunder perhaps relaxing just a bit, it might have paved the way for this:
Yes, that is former Boston Celtic Kendrick Perkins on the unfortunate end of that dunk which should delight Lakers’ fans throughout the land. It does indeed remind you of something done last season:
Since then he won the slam dunk contest in the All Star Game, rookie of the year and coined the term “Lob City”. Everyone has been waiting on pins and needles for a slam of equal violence and awe, and Griffin obliged. Even LeBron James with his own poster child over the weekend tweeted, “Dunk of the Year!! @blakegriffin just dunked on Kendrick Perkins so hard!! Wow!! I guess I'm #2 now. Move over #6”
Of course this was not where the game was won by the Clippers. At the end of the first half as the Thunder cut what was a 16-point deficit to six points, the Clippers perimeter shooting put the half away nailing four consecutive three pointers as the Thunder scored nothing. The six-point lead turned into an 18-point lead in 70 seconds.
Despite playing a tough game in the altitude the night before, the Clippers had the legs and energy to hit all of their perimeter shots going 10-of-14 from three-point range in the first half alone. Caron Butler had 16 points while hitting four three’s, Chris Paul had 11 and Mo Williams continued his hot shooting hitting all three three’s he attempted.
But as the third quarter started they ditched the perimeter and lived in the paint with Griffin scoring the first eight points punctuated by that highlight slam. Lawler’s Law was invoked with 7:22 remaining in the game which seemed to be a bad thing for the Clippers as they took their foot off the pedal. They didn’t have a field goal for another four minutes as Chris Paul took the game over and closed the game out.
Throughout most of the game, the only players generating any offense for the Thunder were Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Nick Collison was their next leading scorer with four points. Meanwhile all five Clippers’ starters were in double digits. Eventually Daequan Cook hit some three’s in the fourth quarter to join Durant and Westbrook in double-digits, but it seemed disturbing that a team that came into the game with a 16-3 record losing only twice on the road would have such an uneven scoring disparity.
What was even more surprising was how ineffective Kendrick Perkins was. Despite being known as a defensive beast, the paint was pretty much open for whatever Griffin and DeAndre Jordan wanted to do. Griffin ended with 22 points and seven boards while Jordan had a double-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.
It’s really impressive watching the Clippers. While teams double team Paul to start the game, the Clippers make opponents pay for leaving open shooters. Once the opponent realizes the futility of their strategy, their confusion leaves holes open for the rest of the game. And with the veteran leadership of Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups, unlike previous seasons the Clippers take advantage of every opening.
Brent Barry was right. This was the most impressive victory for the Clippers so far this season. They answered the bell when they needed to, and despite the adversity and the fatigue they stepped up to the challenge.
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