After four straight double-digit victories, the Clippers and Thunder went down to the wire Friday night, as the Clippers overcame a slow start and 29 points from Russell Westbrook to gain a measure of revenge on the only team that has defeated them this season.
Here are five takeaways from the Clippers 110-108 win in Oklahoma City.
1 – JAMAL’S BIG NIGHT: Like he has so many times in his 16-year career, Clippers guard Jamal Crawford was a difference maker off the bench for L.A. The reigning 6th Man of the Year poured in a season-high 19 points, with none bigger than his 3-pointer with 48.9 seconds remaining that pushed the Clippers lead to 109-104, effectively putting the game out of reach.
“That’s why he is the three-time 6th Man of the Year,” Chris Paul said about Crawford. “We know he can provide that scoring every night.”
Crawford entered the game averaging 9.6 points and shooting just 21.4 percent from behind the 3-point arc, but he erased that slow start to the season against the Thunder by dropping 11 points in the 4th quarter alone (4-of-5 FG) and finishing with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting while going 3-of-4 from long range.
On a night where much of the Clippers bench other than Crawford struggled at times, Mo Speights also provided a huge lift, burying a slick, 21-foot jump shot with 1:53 remaining that gave the Clippers a 104-102 lead.
2 – FRANCHISE BEST: The Clippers win over the Thunder pushed their start to 8-1, the best start in franchise history. It ensures the Clippers go into Saturday’s match-up with the Minnesota Timberwolves with the best record in the NBA.
3 – HOME SWEET HOME: It’s always a big deal when Clippers forward and Oklahoma native Blake Griffin is back in the Sooner state. Due to injuries, the former University of Oklahoma star had not played in his home town since Feb. 23, 2014 when he scored 20 points and had seven rebounds and dished for six assists. After a slow start Friday vs. the Thunder, Griffin heated up to lead the Clippers with 25 points (10-of-20 FG, 5-of-7 FT), six rebounds and three assists.
Griffin received a warm reception from the Oklahoma crowd during introductions, but proceeded to make them unhappy throughout, especially in the 3rd quarter when Griffin helped the Clippers pull away in a game that was tied 50-50 at the half. Griffin exploded for 15 third quarter points, scoring on an array of dunks and post moves in the lane as L.A. seized control of the contest. With the game tied at 104 and 1:27 remaining, Griffin came up with a huge steal, leading to DeAndre Jordan’s dunk that put the Clippers in the lead for good.
In his last four games, Griffin has been dominant, averaging 22.0 points, 8.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 54.6 percent from the field.
4 – END OF STREAK, BUT D HOLDS: The Clippers saw their seven game streak of holding opponents under 100 points come to an end vs. the Thunder, as Oklahoma City scored 108 points, the most points scored against the Clippers this season. It was the most points LA has allowed since Portland went for 106 points on Opening Night.
When it mattered, the Clippers defense held strong, however, forcing a total of 17 turnovers and forcing Russell Westbrook into difficult shots en route to a 9-for-25 shooting night and 29 points, two below his average.
In the last two games, the Clippers defense has limited its opponents leading scorers (Damian Lillard and Westbrook) into shooting a combined 10-of-35 (28.5 percent) from the field.
5 – SLOW START: The Clippers recovered from a slow start, as the first quarter was one of their worst of the young season. L.A. got off to a rough beginning, missing six of their first seven shots while the Thunder pulled out to a 9-3 lead early on. Other than the Thunder’s Victor Oladipo, who finished the quarter with 11 points, the first 12 minutes was not a beautiful display. The Clippers scored a season-low 16 points, and made a season-low five shots from the field, finishing with a season-worst 22.7 percent from the field. Even Blake Griffin got off to a rough start, going 1-of-6 from the field for four points in the first, but it was a trend the Clippers would quickly reverse as they stormed back into the game with a 9-4 run in the first three minutes of the second quarter.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Clippers head to Minnesota to face the upstart Timberwolves on Saturday night in Minnesota.
NOTES: DeAndre Jordan finished with 13 rebounds, leading the Clippers on the boards for the seventh time this season…JJ Redick continued the NBA’s longest active streak of consecutive games with a 3-pointer, extending his streak to 64 straight games as he hit a season-high four from beyond the arc….Wesley Johnson hustled downcourt to make huge, spectacular run-down block on Semaj Christon with 9:27 remaining in the game…The Thunder utilized the hack-a-Jordan strategy with about five minutes remaining in the game and the Clippers up four. Jordan went 6-of-12 during the stretch.
By Rowan Kavner for Clippers.com
First appeared on NBA.com Global