It was not the type of win Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers likes to see from his team, but it was better than the alternative. The Clips 101-91 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder leveled their western conference semi final series at 2 a piece. It also marked the second time in the last three seasons in which the Clippers erased a 20+ point deficit to snag a playoff victory.
The Clippers were down 17 after the first quarter when Doc Rivers made the game saving decision to ride the play of Chris Paul for as long as he could. Paul played 23 of 24 minutes in the first half, 45 minutes over all scoring 23 points and dishing out 10 assists. His biggest contribution came in the 4th quarter when he guarded Kevin Durant and forced the league’s MVP to commit four crucial turnovers which Darren Collison converted into layups.
The first piece I wrote for isportsweb discussed how critical Darren Collison would be to the Clippers success especially in leading their second unit. Yesterday his physical attributes were really what gave Los Angeles the edge. They say speed kills, and Collison’s killed the Thunder yesterday as he scored on four different fast breaks sparked by turnovers. This run saw DC sprint by former UCLA teammate Russell Westbrook who had 5 fouls, but was also beat down the court several times by his mark Collison. DC used his speed combined with his awareness in running the floor aided him in scoring 12 fourth quarter points and powering the Clips 4th quarter offensive onslaught.
Both teams shot under 45% last night and Los Angeles was 3-21 on three pointers. Once again OKC’s lacking of a 3rd consistent offensive threat hurt them as KD and Westbrook combined for 67, but no other player on the team scored more then 10. As Westbrook and Durant fatigued their was nobody else to give the ball to and as a result the turnovers began to mount for the thunder who finished with 16 giveaways which gave the Clippers the opportunity to erase the Thunders’ 16 point 4th quarter lead.
The series is now a best of three set and with game 4 being the chippiest we’ve seen to this point, tensions will ramp up in the remaining games. Stephen Adams has a couple flagrants left in him as well as Matt Barnes. Expect choppy play, a lot of whistles, and a whole lot of contact in this best of three series between two teams with legitimate title aspirations.