Perry Jones III dropped a career-high 32 points as the undermanned Thunder fell just short in a 93-90 loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles.
The Thunder got off to a blistering start, building an 8-0 lead less than two minutes in. Oklahoma City parlayed that cushion into a 28-22 lead after one.
But the second quarter brought no good news to the boys in blue. Oklahoma City's offense began to stall as Los Angeles used an 8-0 burst to turn a six-point deficit into a two-point lead. To make matters worse, Russell Westbrook was forced to leave the game due to a hand injury and did not return.
On his walk to the locker room, Westbrook stopped to engage in a shouting match with a fan. Thunder personnel attempted to escort Westbrook down the tunnel but he held his ground, barking at the fan and signaling for a security member.
OKC was outscored 24-13 in the third and trailed by five at the break.
With Westbrook icing his hand on the Thunder bench, it would have been easy to assume that it was only a matter of time until the Clippers blew things open. But Perry Jones had other plans.
The third-year forward kept his team in the game with one basket after another, but OKC couldn't quite get over the hump. The Clippers maintained a single-digit lead for what felt like an eternity, but with just a couple of minutes remaining, the Thunder made one final push.
J.J. Redick's 3-pointer gave the Clippers a seven-point lead with 3:34 to play, but it was all Thunder until the final horn. Serge Ibaka and Sebastian Telfair answered with 3-balls of their own and with 1:44 to go the Thunder trailed by just one. After a pair of Blake-Griffin free throws, the Clippers led 91-88 with 5.8 seconds remaining and OKC had an opportunity to tie.
But the Clippers fouled Nick Collison, who buried both free throws to bring OKC back within one. After Redick answered with a pair of his own, the Thunder has just two seconds to travel the court and tie the game. Steven Adams found Ibaka for a clean look from deep, but his shot clanked off the front iron.
Ibaka's 17 points and nine rebounds helped Jones keep this one tight. Sebastian Telfair finished with 11 points on just 2-9 shooting but was the only other Thunder player in double-figures. Westbrook scored just two points in nine minutes. He will reportedly be re-evaluated on Friday.
Griffin's 23 points and seven boards led Los Angeles, while Paul chipped in 22 points and seven assists. Jamal Crawford added 16 off the L.A. bench.
The Thunder (0-2) returns home on Saturday to host the Memphis Grizzlies. More on this game to come.