After a loss against the third-place Utah Jazz, the Clippers were able to enjoy two days of rest before facing off against the Thunder in Oklahoma City. While the Thunder are not viewed as one of the more challenging matchups in the Western Conference, the absences of Paul George and Marcus Morris made it difficult for the Clippers to get into a rhythm, which resulted in a 104-103 loss on the road.
Without Morris, and with Batum on a minutes restriction, Justise Winslow got the start and made the most of it. His five quick points helped the team get to an early lead, but it was erased shortly before the end of the first quarter. The Clippers effectively contained Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but Lu Dort and Tre Mann stepped up, scoring a combined 27 points on better than 70 percent shooting in the first half alone.
For the Clippers, it was Luke Kennard and Terance Mann who picked up most of the offensive load. They also combined for 27 points in the half, but the Thunder held a five point lead in what was a chaotic 24 minutes, to say the least.
The interception by @Reggie_Jackson ➡️ the finish by @terance_mann.— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) December 19, 2021
@BallySportWest | #ClipperNation pic.twitter.com/Mq58HfP4Du
The two teams traded baskets throughout most of the third quarter, but the Clippers fought back and for a moment, grabbed the lead. However, three points were subtracted from the scoreboard due to an uncalled shot clock violation, forcing the Clippers into another hole to start the fourth. Yet, as they’ve done time and time again, they came roaring back and grabbed a one point lead off of a Kennard transition three with just over two minutes to go.
Though the Clippers seemed to have the advantage as they led by two with seconds left on the clock, the ball ended up in Gilgeous-Alexander’s hands. He proceeded to take Batum off the dribble and stepped back for an open long-range three pointer that fell through the net as the buzzer sounded. Perhaps it’s justice for the Thunder after losing to the Pelicans days earlier in a similar fashion, but this loss demonstrates the shortcomings the Clippers have without their primary scorers. Now, they’ll be able to enjoy some time in Los Angeles before facing off against the Spurs on the 20th.