On a night the Clippers were without a huge chunk of its core players, the Thunder was able to grind out a 119-117 home win to improve to 53-23 on the season.
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Despite Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers combining to outscore Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook 64-to-57, the Thunder was able to outscore the Clippers by six points in the fourth quarter on its way to a two-point win.
Most assumed the Thunder would easily take care of business against a short-handed LA team that was without Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick, but instead the Clippers came out on fire and led by as many as nine points in the third quarter and led for most of the fourth frame.
Tough to win anytime when the opposing team is scoring by 3's. #News9Thunder— Steve McGehee (@SteveMcGehee) April 1, 2016
Tough to win anytime when the opposing team is scoring by 3's. #News9Thunder
With its back against the wall, OKC’s superstars were strapped in ready for the final stretch.
Trailing by two points with crunch time in full-throttle, Westbrook pulled up for his signature jumper at the left elbow to tie the game at 117-117 with just over a minute left in the game. On the other end, there was little doubt Crawford would be taking the shot for the Clippers, but the veteran guard was tightly contested by Andre Roberson throughout the possession and forced a miss that resulted in a Thunder rebound.
With the score tied up, Durant attempted a contested 3-pointer that clanked off rim and into the hands of LA’s Wesley Johnson. Instead of allowing the opponent to easily advance the ball in a tie game, OKC’s pesky point guard did his best to ensure his team didn’t walk away with an embarrassing loss. Westbrook poked the ball away from a surprised Johnson, giving OKC another possession with a chance to take the lead.
Great snag by Russ to keep the possession for OKC. Tied at 117, 37 secs. left. #News9Thunder— Steve McGehee (@SteveMcGehee) April 1, 2016
Great snag by Russ to keep the possession for OKC. Tied at 117, 37 secs. left. #News9Thunder
After an OKC timeout, Westbrook’s fall away jumper from the free throw line bounced off the rim, but right into the outstretched arm of big man Steven Adams, who tipped in the go-ahead basket to give the Thunder a two-point lead with 26.9 seconds left.
Rivers’ game tying layup on the other end smacked off the backboard without hitting the rim, and Westbrook was able to soar for the rebound with 2.7 seconds left to seal the OKC victory.
Kevin Durant scored 31 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Westbrook added 26 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. OKC was able to out-rebound LA 46-to-26 on its way to victory.
The Clippers shot lights out for most of the night, with the entire team finishing 16-for-29 from behind the arc. Rivers shot 7-for-9 from three after making his first six, and Crawford converted five of his eight attempts. Both Rivers and Crawford finished with 32 points each while Jeff Green added 19 off the bench.
The Thunder is off the next two days and will be back in action on Sunday afternoon (2:30) in Houston against the Rockets.