The LA Clippers faced the second game of their two-game set against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and once again posted the victory, this time winning 108-100 at Staples Center on Sunday afternoon. The result extends LA’s winning streak to seven games.
It was another pretty comprehensive win for the Clippers over the Thunder, but while LA again struggled to hit at a high clip from 3-point range, they were able to get baskets in a variety of ways to keep the upstart Thunder at arm’s length throughout the game.
With the Clippers entering on a six-game winning streak, Ty Lue made no changes to his starting five in this game. Marcus Morris, Sr. sat out the game with an undisclosed, non-COVID illness.
LA got out to a quick start once again, with Patrick Beverley’s defense and rebounding helping the Clippers get easy looks and second-chance opportunities. Oklahoma City had a spark from youngster Isaiah Roby, who had a quick six points in the opening five minutes and change.
To end the 1st quarter, Ivica Zubac uncharacteristically played point guard in transition, hitting Kawhi Leonard as he slashed to the basket to cap off the first frame with the Clippers leading 36-19.
Ahead of a long road trip coming up for the Clippers, Lue mixed things up and inserted Patrick Patterson and Terance Mann in the lineup in the 2nd quarter alongside the second unit.
With both teams mixing up their lineups after Friday’s dominant win by the Clippers, this game stayed closer although LA remained in control in the 2nd quarter. Oklahoma City got their deficit to single digits, but Leonard hit a clutch 3-pointer just before halftime and the teams went into the locker room with the Clippers leading 56-45. Leonard paced all scorers with 21 points in just over 18 minutes of action.
Beverley did not return to the game for the 2nd half, after he was ruled out with a knee ailment. Reggie Jackson took his place in the lineup, and after playing sparingly of late, the guard hit eight quick points for LA, scoring 14 in 20 minutes on the day. Still, the Thunder came back and narrowed the Clippers’ lead to five points midway through the 3rd quarter, before the Clippers pulled ahead again and finished with an 85-73 edge.
The teams essentially traded baskets in the 4th quarter, with the Thunder’s Hamidou Diallo trying to force the issue and get to the free throw line, although he couldn’t get the freebies to fall.
Leonard was aggressive on offense again, and led the way with 34 points, scoring in all manner of ways in the game. He also added eight assists and nine rebounds to cap off a dominant performance.
OKC really rallied in the dying minutes and came within six points inside two minutes to play. But LA grinded to kill clock, and Leonard drove and hit a clutch dunk from the baseline to make it a three-possession game.
LA will begin their six-game road trip on Tuesday when they face the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks are off to an 8-7 start to the season, but now that they’ll be on the first long-distance road swing of the season, we’ll see how the Clippers handle hotel life, starting in Georgia.