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Plagued by Turnovers, Clippers Fall to the Thunder 110-104

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Despite committing 26 turnovers, the Clippers showed some signs of life Saturday, suggesting better days are ahead.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Starting Lineups:

Los Angeles Clippers: Avery Bradley, Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Marcin Gortat, Tobias Harris.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Steven Adams, Terrance Ferguson, Paul George, Jerami Grant, Russell Westbrook

Game Summary:

An ugly game with some glimmers of hope.

First Half:

The Clippers came out in the first half with more energy than they have shown in their recent stretch of games and kept it close for the first 18 mins. At that point, intensity dipped and the Thunder went on a 15-8 run. At the half the Clippers trailed by 11, 61-50.

Stats at the Half:

Clippers:

  • Tobias Harris: 16 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal
  • Danilo Gallinari: 11 points, 4 rebounds, 1 steal
  • Montrezl Harrell: 7 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist
  • Avery Bradley: 5 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists
  • Marcin Gortat: 4 points, 6 rebounds
  • Patrick Beverley: 4 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal
  • Mike Scott: 3 points, 1 assist

Clippers Team Stats:

  • 43 percent shooting from the field.
  • 8-17 from three-point-land.
  • 25 rebounds.
  • 15 turnovers.
  • 8 points in the paint.

Thunder:

  • Paul George: 22 points 4 rebounds 4 assists
  • Jerami Grant: 11 points
  • Steven Adams: 9 points, 2 rebounds
  • Hamidou Diallo: 6 points
  • Russell Westbrook: 3 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals

Thunder Team Stats:

  • 45 percent shooting from the field.
  • 5-10 from three-point-land.
  • 22 rebounds.
  • 5 turnovers.
  • 32 points in the paint.

Second Half:

The second half was a tale of two quarters. The third quarter was a bit of a disaster. The Clippers committed five turnovers in the first four minutes, to add to the 15 they had in the first half. Defensive physicality was lacking. The Thunder extended their lead to 17 by the end of three: 86-69.

The fourth quarter brought with it glimpses of the grit and grind Clippers. The squad came out with fire and went on a 9-0 run to cut the Thunder’s lead to seven. Defensive intensity picked up, with Patrick Beverley and Avery Bradley setting the tone. The Clippers got as close as six, outscoring the Thunder 35-24 in the frame, but could not pull off the comeback.

Final score: Thunder 110, Clippers 104.

End of Game Stats:

Clippers:

  • Gallinari: 28 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
  • Harris: 22 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
  • Harrell: 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block
  • Bradley: 10 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
  • Beverley: 9 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals

Thunder:

  • George: 33 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
  • Grant: 18 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 3 blocks
  • Adams: 16 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists
  • Westbrook: 13 points, 9 rebounds, 12 assists, 6 steals
  • Diallo: 10 points, 1 rebound, 1 block

First, The Bad News:

Turnovers: The Clippers had 26 turnovers, resulting in 22 points for the Thunder. Leading the way: Gallinari (7 TO), Bradley (6 TO), Harris and Harrell (3 TO each), Gilgeous-Alexander and Teodosic (2 TO each), and Gortat, Beverley and Scott (1 TO each).

Last time these two franchises met the Clippers had 24 turnovers; there appears to be a trend here. Frustratingly, the turnovers were not all forced. Guys were dribbling of their shoes, falling down, and telegraphing passes. The result? Easy transition points for Oklahoma City. The Thunder had 20 fast break points to the Clippers’ 10. The Clippers have got to take better care of the ball as the season progresses or they are going to slide out of playoff contention really quick.

Outplayed in the Paint: The Thunder outscored the Clippers in the paint 54 to 30. The pick-and-roll was there for the taking, particularly with Gortat in the game, however the Polish Hammer could not catch the ball consistently or finish at the rim. He was blocked at least three times by the Thunder’s much younger and athletic front court. Harrell did a better job competing in the paint, but overall there were a lot of missed opportunities to pass inside and find post-ups in this contest.

What Happened to Shai? Gilgeous-Alexander scored just 2 points in 21 minutes tonight, and went 0 for 2 from the line. He was was largely a non-factor. He had a few good stretches defensively, but never seemed to lock in on offense.

Now, The Good News:

Ball Movement: The Clippers shot well; 51 percent from the field and 52 percent from beyond the arc. The three-ball was present throughout the game, in part because there was a concerted effort to move the ball to find quality shots.

Harrell Returns: Montrezl Harrell has officially broken out of his recent slump. The energetic big man averaged just 8.8 points and 4.2 rebounds his last six games but had a solid 21 points and 6 rebounds Saturday. One of Montrezl’s buckets came from beyond the three-point line; his first three of the season, and just the third of his career!

Bradley Shuts Down Brodie: Despite his flaws on offense, Avery Bradley was very effective defending Russell Westbrook. Bradley held Westbrook to 23.5 percent shooting from the field (4 for 17). Of course, Westbrook found other ways to make a difference with his 12 assists and 6 steals, but Bradley did shut down his scoring. The player the Clippers could not contain was Paul George. George was exceptional, leading all scorers with 33 points.

Battle for the Boards: Surprisingly, the Clippers out-rebounded the Thunder 44 to 40. Steven Adams was held to 5 boards (half his average). Harris led Los Angeles with nine boards, Gortat contributed eight, and Bradley and Gallinari both had seven.

Speaking of Gallinari ... : Danilo Gallinari had a fantastic game. He turned over the ball seven times, but was very physical on the floor and was successful scoring in a variety of ways. He finished the game with 28 points. Although Harris (22) and Harrell (21) also quietly logged 20+ games, Gallo was the one to watch.

The Return of Grit and Grind? The resiliency that was the hallmark of the Clippers’ identity in the first 20 games of the season appears to be returning. They fought to the wire in this match up, and should have momentum heading home for the next stretch of games.

Next Up:

The Clippers host the Trail Blazers at Staples Center on Monday, December 17, 2018 at 7:30 pm.