Below are five things to take from the Clippers’ Game 3 118-112 Game 3 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center:
1. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook took over in the final minutes. After this intriguing flashed reeks of inconsistency in their first-round matchup against Memphis, Durant and Westbrook have left the Clippers in fits. Beyond the stat lines between Durant (36 points) and Westbrook (23 points), the pair also helped close out a game that went nip and tuck for nearly four quarters.
First, Westbrook drove to the basket with ease for an open layup. Then, he buried a top of the key 3-pointer that gave the Thunder a 111-107 edge with 2:09 left. Durant iced the game then with a turnaround jumper for a 113-107 lead with 1:13 left, a play that left Clippers fans crying as much as Durant’s mom shed tears this week when her son delivered a riveting MVP speech.
2. Blake Griffin thrived through the physical play. Blood streamed out of Griffin’s nose after fighting for a rebound with Serge Ibaka. Elbows greeted him every time he entered the paint. Pushing and shoving ensued anytime he fought through a rebound. But Griffin thrived through it all, posting 34 points on 13 of 22 shooting, eight rebounds and four assists. That marked a vast improvement in Griffin’s in both Game 1 and 2 where he shot a combined 12 of 29 from the field mostly on jump shots. In Game 3, Griffin painted a different picture. He resorted toward driving to the basket with enough force that any ensuing contact became a non issue. Griffin still shot six of his attempts from the outside, including one missed three-point field goal attempt. But he complementing that developing skill by becoming more aggressive.