Clippers Roar Back In Fourth Quarter To Even Series

Sunday, May 11th 2014, 7:17 pm
By: News 9

It was tale of two teams at the Staples Center on Mother's Day and both of those teams happened to be the Thunder.

The first quarter was an example of Oklahoma City at its best; running-and gunning, whipping up the floor, finding open teammates and playing excellent, physical defense on the other end en route to a 17-point lead after the opening quarter.

But, as the saying goes, it's how you finish that counts and it would be hard to draw up a worse fourth quarter than what OKC turned in.

The Thunder surrendered a 16-point fourth-quarter lead, allowing the Clippers to roar back to take their first lead of the contest with 1:23 remaining in an eventual 101-99 Los Angeles victory where a running Russell Westbrook 3 rimmed out at the buzzer.

Oklahoma City appeared to have the game in hand but reverted to a passive, isolation-style on offense, looking to melt away the clock and keep L.A. at arm's length.

It didn't work.

A big reason why was OKC's inability to play with much physicality late because of widespread foul trouble, which allowed the Clippers to slice through the Thunder defense with their pick-and-roll. In addition to the fouls, there was a timidity from the Thunder bigs in an effort to prevent lobs over the top.

As a result, point guards Chris Paul and Darren Collison gouged the Thunder for 20 fourth-quarter points – 10 each – and OKC was never able to find an answer for them.

After smoking the Clippers 32-15 in the first, Oklahoma City was outscored 86-67 the rest of the way.

And once that pressure maxed out late in the fourth, OKC's offense couldn't flip the switch.

But even in defeat, Kevin Durant and Westbrook were fantastic for the most part. Durant finished with a playoff-high 40 points and he made a living at the foul line, connecting on 15-of-18 free throws. He also tallied seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks. However, he did turn the ball over eight times on the day.

Westbrook was once again a bull in a China shop, befuddling the Clippers for a third-straight game with 27 points, eight assists, six rebounds and four steals.

Blake Griffin, who played the entirety of the fourth quarter with five fouls, led the way for Los Angeles with 25 points and nine rebounds on 8-of-19 shooting and hit 9-of-11 from the foul line. Chris Paul added a double-double with 23 points and 10 assists.

While the "big twos" for each team were mostly dominant, the Clippers' supporting cast definitely won the day over OKC's.

Collison and Jamal Crawford had 18 points a piece off the bench and DeAndre Jordan had seven points to go with a beastly 14 rebounds.

On the other side, Reggie Jackson was the only Thunder player to join KD and Russ in double figures with 10. The rest of the team combined to score 22 points on 33 percent shooting with 16 fouls. That's not going to win a lot of ball games against a team as good as Los Angeles.

Overall, Oklahoma City outshot Los Angeles 44 percent to 41.9 percent and hit seven 3's compared to L.A.'s three on 14 percent shooting, but the second-chance opportunities on a whopping 15 offensive rebounds and 16 Thunder turnovers gave the Clippers the opening they need to slip out with a series-tying victory on Sunday.

Game 5 is scheduled for an 8:30 p.m. tip Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.