Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul, Hedo Turkoglu (8), Jamal Crawford (11) and Blake Griffin (32) walk back to their bench in the closing minutes of a 118-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors during the second half in Game 4 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series on Sunday, April 27, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
After the Clippers’ emotional 105-104 Game 5 collapse to the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road, where Los Angeles squandered a 13-point lead in the final four minutes of play, point-gaurd Chris Paul took the blame.
Paul’s stretch of play in the waning moments would make no highlight reel. Paul turned the ball over with 17.8 seconds left that led to the controversial out-of-bounds call involving Reggie Jackson and the Clippers’ Matt Barnes call with 11.6 seconds left.
After the review kept the ball with the Thunder, Paul fouled Russell Westbrook on the elbow as he attempted a three-point shot with 6.4 ticks left. Westbrook sunk all three for the 105-104 lead.
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Serge Ibaka made 9 of 10 from the field and scored 20 points for Oklahoma City in the Thunder’s 118-112 victory Friday over the Clippers in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinals series at Staples Center. Ibaka was often left wide open from 16 to 17 feet.
OKC coach Scott Brooks was asked prior to Sunday’s tip-off for Game 4 why Ibaka’s perimeter shooting has improved.
“I think he deserves the credit for putting a lot of work in,” Brooks said. “He works with our staff. Serge, as every player, you have to put the time in. You have to come back every day and do the work. You can’t be a sometimes workout guy. You can’t only work out even days of the week.”
Founded in 1889, The Oklahoman is the largest daily newspaper in Oklahoma. But it took a lot of heat for its headline after Game 5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round Western Conference playoff series against Memphis when it came with this headline: “Mr. Unreliable.” It was in reference to Kevin Durant, who, of course, was named league MVP on Tuesday. In a 100-99 Game 5 loss to Memphis that gave the Grizzlies a 3-2 series lead, Durant scored 26 points, but shot just 10 of 24 from the field. An 88.2-percent career free-throw shooter, he made just 3 of 6 from the line.
The newspaper apologized for the headline, and it has redeemed itself the past two days with some real catchy ones. After Chris Paul made 8 of 9 3-pointers in the Clippers’ 122-105 Game 1 rout of OKC at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City on Monday in the Western Conference semifinals, the headline in the next day’s paper – “CPTHREE’D” – was awesome.
Then in Wednesday’s editions, the day after Durant gave a very warm speech thanking the organization, his teammates, coaches and especially his loved ones upon accepting his MVP award, the headline – “All in the family,” also was outstanding.
Assuming the Clippers advance to the next round of the Western Conference playoffs with a Game 7 victory over the Warriors on Saturday, fans of the team should book their flights to Oklahoma.
Why? Because the Memphis Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph has been suspended for Game 7 of his team’s series with Oklahoma City for punching Thunder center Steven Adams in the jaw in Game 6, the NBA announced Friday afternoon.
Since Game 7 of that series is at OKC, it’s hard to imagine Memphis prevailing without Randolph, who averaged 18.2 points and 8.7 rebounds in the six games in which he played in the series.