Thunder can’t complete season sweep in 127-105 loss to Clippers

The Oklahoma City Thunder failed to complete the season series sweep against the LA Clippers in a 127-105 loss.

Thanks to Kawhi Leonard going supernova with 32 points on 15 shots, the Clippers won their first game against the Thunder this season after three consecutive losses.

“We didn’t execute well enough. Weren’t physical enough. Especially throughout the game,” Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said. “… So turn the page and we have another opportunity tomorrow.”

The final score suggests this was a blowout loss, but the Thunder were in it for the majority of the game.

With the Thunder trailing 80-78 with 2:13 left in the third quarter, the Clippers went on a 34-11 run to blow the game open. The Clippers’ largest lead in the win was 28 points.

The Clippers scored the ball in an efficient manner — going 47-of-84 (56%) from the field and 18-of-37 (48.6%) from 3. A much better night compared to the Thunder’s — who shot just 41-of-93 (44.1%) from the field and a poor 13-of-39 (33.3%) from 3.

“We had our moments. We had good possessions on both ends of the floor,” Daigneault said. “There’s a reason why we were in the game for almost three quarters. I think they had that flurry that got it to like 11 or 12 (points) at the end of the third but it was a pretty close game until then.”

The duo of Leonard and Russell Westbrook led the way as Paul George sat out with a knee sprain he suffered in the first game of this mini-baseball series on Tuesday.

As mentioned earlier, Leonard scored 32 points on 12-of-15 shooting — this included starting the game on a strong note with 15 first-quarter points on perfect 7-of-7 shooting. Westbrook was the Clippers’ second-best player as he finished with 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting and seven assists against his former team.

Meanwhile, outside of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder struggled to score. Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 30 points while the other four Thunder starters combined to score 45 points.

The Clippers also enjoyed a significant bench advantage, as their reserves outscored the Thunder, 51-30. The bench trio of Bones Hyland (16), Terence Mann (14) and Nicolas Batum (12) scored double-digit points. Meanwhile, the Thunder’s leading scorer off the bench was Ousmane Dieng with nine points.

Credit to the Clippers; they desperately needed this win to avoid falling into the Play-In tournament race and every win matters even more now that George will likely miss the remainder of the regular season.

Leonard was phenomenal and set the mood early in this game as he was a perfect 9-of-9 from the midrange and 10-of-11 overall from two-pointers. Westbrook also had a much better outing against the Thunder this time around.

Meanwhile, the Thunder failed to win their fourth consecutive game against the Clippers and will need to quickly move on as they play a critical game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

“The good thing is 24 hours from now we get to go again,” Josh Giddey said. “It’s another good team so we’ll put this one in the past, wake up tomorrow and get ready for LA tomorrow.”

Let’s take a look at Thunder player grades.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: A+

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

As per usual, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was his dominant self in this one. He finished with 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting and went a perfect 9-of-9 from the free-throw line in 27 minutes. He also had three assists, four rebounds and three blocks.

Gilgeous-Alexander was limited to just 27 minutes, as he didn’t see fourth-quarter action due to the lopsided scoreboard. The impromptu rest could increase the odds of Gilgeous-Alexander playing in Friday’s game against the Lakers.

Considering the tiebreaker is on the line against the same-record Lakers, I’d lean towards Gilgeous-Alexander playing with such high stakes revolving around this game.

Jalen Williams: B-

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t the best J-Dub game but it wasn’t the worst either.

Jalen Williams finished with 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting and went 2-of-4 from 3. Williams also collected four assists and three rebounds. In his 32 minutes, the Thunder were outscored by 26 points — the worst plus-minus among the starters.

Josh Giddey: C

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

After the opening minutes, it felt like Josh Giddey was going to have a massive scoring night.

Giddey scored seven points in the opening six minutes as the Thunder quickly created an 18-11 lead. After that though, Giddey was held in check as he scored just 11 points for the rest of the game.

Overall, Giddey finished with 18 points on 8-of-15 shooting and 2-of-5 shooting from 3. He also added four assists and three rebounds in his limited 26 minutes.

“The end of that third… We collapsed too much,” Giddey said. “Kawhi drew so much attention and guys were getting sucked into it and were spraying out and hitting 3s… They blew the game open.”

Lu Dort: D+

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

A tough night for Lu Dort after being crowned the hero following his game-winning defensive stop against Leonard in Tuesday’s win.

In 30 minutes, Dort finished with three points on 1-of-11 shooting and went 1-of-4 from 3. He also grabbed six rebounds in the loss.

After shutting off Leonard last game, Dort — along with the rest of the Thunder — were at his mercy in this game as he hit tough midrange jumper after tough midrange jumper on his way to an efficient 32-point night.


Story originally appeared on Thunder Wire

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