Friend of DT Randy Renner will be contributing practice reports here and there for the rest of the season with audio from Scott Brooks and players.
The Oklahoma City Thunder took full advantage of a tired Los Angeles Clippers team the last time the teams played running out to a big lead and staying out there.
The Thunder dominated inside, grabbing 18 more rebounds and limited both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Oklahoma City will try to blend those same ingredients into another winning recipe tonight.
“Just contain Chris Paul, not letting his bigs get lobs, limiting their transition and spectacular plays,” said Thunder sixth man James Harden.
It sounds a lot easier than it will be. Harden and the other players have spent time in the film room going back over what made them so successful last time out against the Clips.
“Our coaches did a really good job of emphasizing the good things we did then and how we can carry it over to this game,” Harden told reporters after this morning’s shoot-around. “It’s gonna be a tough game though. They’re fighting for playoff positioning as well so we just need to come out and play Thunder basketball.”
This is the third of four games the teams will play against each other. The fourth will be in Los Angeles next week. The Clippers dominated the Thunder in the first game back in January and the Thunder returned the favor in March.
Thunder head coach Scotty Brooks freely admitted, “I liked the second game better,” during his chat with reporters. “Last game (against the Clippers) I thought we played very physical. We played good defensive basketball and then offensively we were moving the ball and got a lot of good looks.”
Sounds a lot like the way the Thunder played Monday night in Milwaukee in jumping out to a 13-point lead in the first five and a half minutes. Brooks would love to see the same kind of intensity from his guys tonight.
“It’s important, I thought that game against Milwaukee we played defense and offense as well in combination as we probably have all year. And Thabo’s defense throughout the game, that was intimidating because he kept coming at ‘em.”
Sefolosha set a career-high in steals Monday night with seven.
The Clippers were in the middle of an eight games in 11 nights stretch the last time these teams played. Tonight they will come in rested and having won eight of their last 10, though they lost last time out in Memphis. The Grizzlies led by 17 points in the fourth quarter before a Clipper rally fell short. In both their losses in this 10 game stretch L-A fell behind by double digits early. Brooks thinks that will likely be a key tonight.
“The start of the games are always important. If you have a bad start it’s not the end of the world but it’s puts you always chasing the scoreboard so we have to make sure we have a good start.”
And make sure the Clippers don’t.
Point guard Chris Paul has a bruised right elbow it won’t keep him from playing tonight but it might limit his production. He was just 7-for-17 against Memphis and only 1-for-4 on 3-pointers…Clippers guard Mo Williams has missed 10 games with a bruised big toe. He’s been practicing lately but Clips coach Vinny Del Negro said Williams felt, “pretty sore,” after Tuesday’s practice.
Randy Renner has covered Oklahoma sports for more than 30 years and writes for NBA.com.