Coming into tonight’s contest with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Clippers posted a perfect 8-0 record when healthy. They continued to build on that streak, moving to 9-0, as a fully healthy Clippers team defeated OKC, 109-94.
This was the third matchup between the two teams this season. The first two games came down to the final minutes. Back in November for the first matchup, Paul George hit a go-ahead three with 25 seconds left, giving LA the win over his former team. In the second matchup in December, both teams swapped leads in the final minutes, with OKC prevailing and winning by six.
Early on, this game looked as if it would follow a similar path, with the game being nearly tied midway through the second quarter. However, the Clippers defense had other ideas. For the third time in the last five games, LA’s defense held their opponent to under 100 points. If you include their game against Denver, they’ve held four of their last five opponents to under 103 points.
Coming into the season, this was a team that many knew could be a defensive juggernaut, and they’ve showed every bit of it during this five-game winning streak.
The Clippers held OKC to 41.5 percent shooting from the field, including 32 percent from three. They forced 15 turnovers, which resulted in 14 points.
Early on, everything was clicking for the Clippers offense. They scored 38 points, knocked down five from deep, and shot 64 percent from the floor. Lou Williams led the way with nine off the bench, and Kawhi Leonard added eight. Leonard finished with 25 points, a game-high, to go along with eight rebounds and two steals.
Leonard missed the first two meetings against OKC this year, but him having a great game against the Thunder should come as no surprise. Since the 2015-2016 season, there’s no team in the NBA he has performed better against. He’s averaged 28.3 points per game versus the Thunder since then, the fourth most in the league.
The Clippers’ 11-point first quarter lead quickly evaporated in the second quarter, as a 13-3 run from the Thunder brought them to within one. This would be the closest they’d get all night, as the Clippers counter-punched with a 16-0 run, essentially putting the game out of reach for OKC.
The Thunder were able to get within nine in the third, but the Clippers countered yet again, stretching their lead to as high as 21, and never having a single-digit lead the rest of the way.
- Montrezl Harrell appeared to injure his ankle or leg in the third quarter, and then appeared to hurt it again in the fourth. As of right now, it doesn’t seem serious.
- After going scoreless the last two games, Patrick Beverley knocked down the first shot of the game, a corner-three. It would be his only bucket of the game.
- Tonight was Doc Rivers’ 936th career victory, which moved him past Dick Motta for sole possession of 12th on the NBA’s all-time coaching wins list.
- The Clippers are 19-4 when Beverley/Leonard/George play.
- With their 42nd win this season, the Clippers extended a franchise record of securing a record above .500 to nine consecutive seasons. It is the third-longest current streak in the NBA (Oklahoma City 10, San Antonio Spurs 22).
- With a win and Nuggets loss, the Clippers now own sole possession of the second seed in the Western Conference
The Clippers will travel to Houston where they’ll face off with the Rockets on Thursday for their fourth and final match of the season. Houston has won two of three, including the last matchup in which they won at Staples Center, 122-117.
As of now, everyone looks to be fully healthy for both squads. It’s been a great stretch for Houston, who has won 10 of their last 13 games. As of right now, they sit 2.5 games behind LA in the standings.
Tip-off is at 5:00 p.m. PT on TNT this Thursday.