Thunder carves up Clippers in Game 2 112-101 to even series

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By Kevin Green

Well, it seems the Oklahoma City Thunder turned this thing around, haven’t they?

On the night after Kevin Durant received his first MVP award, the Los Angeles Clippers had the misfortune of having to play not only a pissed MVP, but also a pissed off Thunder team that got blown out in Game 1 at home.

Before the game, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, fresh off his banning of Donald Sterling, the former Clippers owner, handed KD the coveted MVP trophy. Durant raised the trophy above his head to the over 18,000 screaming fans inside Chesapeake Energy Arena, and you could just feel that state of clarity. Oklahoma City was going to be ready to play. Anything that happened in Game 1 was behind them, and they were ready to ride the inspiration of KD’s emotional award ceremony to a Game 2 win.

“I think it was more fueled because we lost,” Durant said. “We lost by 20 points last game. Guys were pissed off. Guys wanted to come back and respond. We just went out there and played extremely hard and left it all out there.”

The Thunder did just that, doing to the Clippers what the Clippers did to them in Game 1, cruising to a 112-101 victory.

Fittingly, Durant hit a three for the first points of the game and six of his next ten shots to finish the first quarter with 17 points. His partner in crime, Russell Westbrook, also roasted Los Angeles for 10 points of his own on 5-6 shooting. Of course, you’d be crazy if you thought the Clippers were going to fold that easily.

With his team down 39-29 after a dunk by Steven Adams in the early stages of the second quarter, Doc Rivers called a timeout to figure things out. Then, just like in Game 1, the timeout really made a huge impact on the game. Los Angeles went on a 23-12 run in the next 5:34 to take a 52-51 lead with 4:07 left until halftime, and the only thought running through my mind was “not again.”

I think Scott Brooks caught on to the “call a timeout, make a run” routine, because he called a timeout of his own and the Thunder closed the half on a 10-4 run, taking a 61-56 lead. This time around, Brooks’ timeout proved to be the game-changer, as the Clippers never got within five points of Oklahoma City for the rest of the ballgame. The Thunder outscored Los Angeles 33-21 in the third quarter and that was the clincher. The Clippers were done after that, even falling behind by 20, 103-83, at one point in the fourth quarter. With 1:21 remaining and OKC up 110-97, Brooks emptied the bench and that was that. We had a tied series.

“I thought they did exactly what Scotty Brooks said they were going to do, so give them credit,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “He said they were going to make us feel them and I thought they did that. They were by far the more physical team. They were the tougher team tonight, for sure.”

Now, I want to talk about the game Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. I think it’s fair to say that whenever these two are on and clicking on all cylinders, they are, dare I say, legendary.

Yes, it is quite fair to say that.

The dynamic duo came within one assist of becoming the first teammates to record triple-doubles in the same game in NBA history. So close. I so badly wanted to be a part of history.

From being hype from winning the MVP to finishing with 32 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, it was clearly KD’s night. That’s awesome. However, it was Westbrook who stole the show in my mind. He tallied 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. The amount of hustle he displayed was just…I don’t even know what word to use to describe it; he was the awesome. I mean come on, six of his ten rebounds were offensive rebounds. Aside from the technical he picked up in the second quarter, his game was pretty much flawless. There wasn’t anyone who was going to stop him, not even the almighty Chris Paul.

“Russell probably played harder than all of us combined,” Chris Paul said. “It’s tough to guard him as it is. You get two bad fouls like that early in the game. When you are in foul trouble, it makes it even tougher. Game 3, I will come out ready to play and see if I can do better.”

It’s awfully fun watching the Thunder rebound from a loss. They are now tied with the Clippers 1-1 in the series, but the ball is still in their court as the series shifts to Los Angeles. They split in Oklahoma City, which is exactly what they wanted to do. Now the Thunder have to win at least one game in LA to avoid going down 3-1.

“We wanted to try and come in here and get two, we knew we had to at least get one,” Paul said. “We didn’t play like ourselves today, but we’ll be ready Game 3.”

“I didn’t see 4-0 in this series,” Doc Rivers said. “We can win if they (Durant and Westbrook) both have good offensive games. What we can’t do is then give them that plus everything else. And I thought that’s what happened tonight.”

Game 3 is in Los Angeles on Friday at 9:30 pm.

NOTES:

I can only imagine that KD didn’t like raising that MVP trophy above his head before the game. I mean, he’s such a humble guy, he doesn’t seem like the type to show off his hardware.

“I was so focused on the game, but I didn’t want to take that moment for granted,” Durant said. “We’re not promised anything, so I wanted to enjoy it and also focus on the game.”

Jay Z, Troy Aikman and Jimmy Goldstein were in attendance.

J.J. Redick had the best game for the Clippers. He had 18 points on 7-10 shooting, 2-4 from three.

I seen some pretty interesting no-calls from the refs. An example is when “ref you suck” chants filled the arena after Jordan knocked KD into the bench on a screen with no foul call. Another is when CP3 grabbed Westbrook while he was going up for a layup and there was no foul call. Russell and Scott Brooks were furious, which earned them both technical fouls.

Late in the second quarter, the lights dimmed in the arena and the game had to be paused while they tried to figure out why. It reminded me of a WWE event I went to in the ‘Peake (then Ford Center) back in 2006. It was completely dark in the arena, so it was worse than this little  incident.

Fellow reporter on the dimmed lights in the arena: “This is a d*** energy arena.” Ha ha, I see what you did there.

I swear, every time the crowd chants “MVP” when KD is about to shoot a FT, he misses.

Derek Fisher got hurt on a Glen Davis screen and headed to the locker room afterwards. No word on his condition during the post-game press conference.

Kendrick Perkins nearly got a double-double. He had eight points on 3-7 shooting and nine rebounds. Wow, talk about improvement.

Do you still think Caron Butler should be in the starting lineup instead of Thabo Sefolosha? Well, what if I told you Thabo had 14 points on 6-9 shooting, 2-5 from three, while Butler shot 1-5 for three points, 1-3 from three? Yeah, that’s what I thought. In addition, Redick scored 16 points in the first half, but only two in the second half thanks to Thabo.

“Thabo came back and gave us a good defensive presence on Redick in that second half,” Brooks said. “I thought he had too many open looks in the first half. But he really locked in and did a much better job in that second half.”

Steven Adams is a beast. He had six points on 3-4 shooting, five rebounds and a block in 17 minutes.

I really liked how KD gave all of the credit to God. It takes a lot of courage to openly express your faith in general, but to do it with millions of people watching? That’s insane. Durant just keeps on inspiring every single day. What a great guy and what a great leader he is. Oklahoma is truly blessed to have him.

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