All I could say for the last four minutes of this game was, “I can’t believe the Thunder is going to lose this game.” I was sort of saying it because I didn’t really think it was going to happen, but was trying to reverse jinx it anyway.
And then the Thunder lost the game.
With the game tied at 92-92, Eric Gordon dropped a big 3 with 45 seconds left. On the Thunder’s following possession, Russell Westbrook threw the ball away and was forced to foul Randy Foye. Just like that the Clippers were up five with 30 seconds remaining and Oklahoma City was essentially sunk.
I don’t really know how to describe it. The easiest way is to say that this was a ridiculous loss. About as bad as they get. The way the Thunder fell asleep at the wheel again in the third quarter, then failed to execute late in the game was almost disorienting. It was basically the same story from Friday night, but to a worse team.
Oklahoma City took charge early, held a solid 12-point lead at halftime and looked to be on the way to a nice take-care-of-business win. The defense was good, the offense pretty crisp and the energy solid.
Then Joey Crawford took over the game in the third quarter. A total of six technical fouls were called in about a three-minute stretch (five on OKC) and whether they were deserved or not, all of that took every bit of focus and energy out of the Thunder. The one on Nazr Mohammed was the breaking point for the team. Mohammed was hit for mildly touching Blake Griffin and the message was sent by the officiating crew and the Thunder took it to heart: quit playing so darn hard.
All of that nonsense in the third really seemed to get in OKC’s head. The defense on Griffin slacked, Randy Foye hit a few deep bombs and the Thunder offense couldn’t figure out how to execute. Russell Westbrook finished 1-12 for the game, Kevin Durant went 4-14 in the second half and the team just sort of forgot what it was doing. The loss is frustrating and it’s bad. But it’s also deserved. There’s no excuse to just settle the way the Thunder did. Even if the officials mentally took you out of the game.
I thought Serge Ibaka had injected some life into the team with his ridiculous stuff of Griffin at the rim, but after he fouled out on a pretty iffy call, the tram sort of went flat again. In the end, the Clippers outscored OKC 61-43 in the second half and basically dominated the game. There was never a real good jolt of energy that was sustained. The Ibaka block was nice and Harden’s interception of an oop that led to a fast break was good, but they were just moments. There wasn’t an extended time of good basketball in the second half.
I said it Friday night and this game proved it again: If Russ and KD don’t play well at the same time — which is rare — this team has a hard time figuring out how to win. Again, this was almost a carbon copy of the Portland game. The score was almost even the same. The Thunder didn’t learn from anything Friday night and even worse in this one, shot themselves in the foot. They lost to a team much worse than them and it wasn’t because someone was just hot or they didn’t shoot the ball well. They beat themselves and that’s what’s most frustrating.
- The Thunder came out exactly as you’d hope they would against the Clippers. They were moving the ball, playing great defense and working hard everywhere. It looked like the team was on a mission to right the wrongs of Friday and wanted to punish the Clips. And then the third quarter happened.
- OK, let me try and describe the little technical foul party in the third. The first to get nailed was Kendrick Perkins for protesting a call a little too long. Probably deserved. The following play, Westbrook was called for quite the questionable charge and hopped up as if he was going to really challenge Joey Crawford on it. Westbrook didn’t appear to say anything but was demonstrative as Serge Ibaka tried to hold him back. It didn’t matter as Westbrook and Scott Brooks picked up Ts. Next, Nick Collison lightly bumped Blake Griffin under the basket and naturally, Griffin took exception to it and had words for Nick. Both were hit with techs. And then the next play, Mohammed stopped Griffin from dunking the ball after the whistle and so Griffin took exception again, and Mohammed was hit with a T. The only only deserving player to be called with Perk at the beginning of this. The whole thing was totally ridiculous.
- Oh, and DeAndre Jordan picked up one in the fourth quarter. So seven total.
- A paragraph on Blake Griffin: First, I love the guy. I knew him and his brother growing up. I watched him in middle school. Then in high school. Then at OU. But the way he’s acting now is really irking me. He’s not the same guy on the court. The way he tries to stare down opponents after every bucket. The way he constantly complains. The way he overacts each bump and foul. The way he yells and takes everything personal. It’s not him. It’s like he’s trying to play with a hard edge all the time when it’s unnecessary. You aren’t the Clips’ enforcer, you’re their best player. Act like it. Griffin needs to just play ball. He’s a little too caught up in every foul, every push, every bump, every word. Play basketball and let your game do all the talking you need. Griffin has a ton of it. All this falling and drama he puts on really sort of cheapens his talent. It takes away focus from how awesome he is.
- Thing is, Russell Westbrook is the same way as Griffin with the falling and drama and it certainly gets on my nerves, but Griffin is on another level.
- Ibaka’s shooting percentage has to drop like 30 percent when he takes a dribble before a shot. He’s not quite ready for that part of his game. It’ll be great once it comes, but it’s not there quite yet.
- Turnovers were a big part of OKC’s collapse. A total of 16 in this one, with a bunch of them being really dumb.
- Griffin took five charges in this one.
- Jamario Moon wears his headband over just one ear. I don’t know what to say about that.
- Did I just dream that this game was on ESPN tonight? I could’ve sworn I saw like four promos last night saying this game was on ESPN.
- Eric Gordon has just a terrific handle. He dribbles the ball HARD, but never loses control.
- Is it just me or has Grant Long tried to make an incredible effort to be decidedly non-homerish lately? I think Long has really improved as an analyst, and maybe that’s one of the reasons. He’s separating his emotion a bit from the game and is really focusing on just calling what he sees. Although, he did properly freak out over Ibaka’s block though.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night: I didn’t really hear a good one in this one. Any nominations?
I’ll be honest, I’m sort of deflated. This game left a really bad taste in my mouth. Not only did the Thunder lose and play horribly to do it, but I was soured with the way Griffin acted all night. The whole thing just sort of stunk. I hope to see a very angry team Tuesday night in Denver.
Next up: At Denver Tuesday.