NBA Playoffs 2014 - Los Angeles Clippers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Game 4
In what was an entertaining game throughout Oklahoma City Coach Scott Brooks elected to go with a smaller lineup in the fourth quarter and it led to a 32 point fourth quarter and a 2-1 lead in the series after the 118-112 victory. The Thunder have now won two consecutive games in the series after getting blown out in game one. It was close throughout the first three quarter with each team taking turns having a slight lead. When Blake Griffin showed tremendous strength to finish off a drive with about 2:00 left the Clippers were down by one. The next few possessions consisted of a long three pointer by Russell Westbrook and a dagger turnaround jumper by Kevin Durant that gave the team a 113-107 lead and the eventual victory.
Durant had yet another monster game with a 38 point, 8 rebound, and 6 assist performance. He had an off game for his standards on game one and has now been dominant since receiving his MVP trophy prior to game 2. He is far from a one man band as Westbrook had perhaps his best all around game of his career with 23 points, 8 rebounds, and a whopping 13 assists, his play in the fourth quarter was much of a distributor than he usually is. He constantly found open teammates and grabbed several key rebounds. However it can be argued that neither one of these guys were the MVP of the game because this is what they are supposed to do as superstars. Serge Ibaka may have been more valuable with his 20 points on 9-10 from the field and 6 rebounds despite having to bang around with Griffin and being in foul trouble for most of the contest. A case could also be made for veteran Caron Butler who had 14 points including 3 big three pointers that came in the midst of Clipper runs. Reggie Jackson was also a big contributor in the fourth quarter when the team went small and he finished with 14 points.
Griffin was dominant for the Clippers throughout despite having to deal with Ibaka and/or constant double teams. He finished with 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. Fellow star and team leader Chris Paul was also dominant with a 21 point and 16 assist night. He either scored or assisted on 55 of the Clippers 112 points. In the 6 minutes he spent in the bench the Clippers were outscored by 10 points and shot 27% from the floor. Jamal Crawford received his 6th man of the year award prior to the game from Coach Doc Rivers and he had a strong game with 20 points. Matt Barnes had 14 points and DeAndre Jordan had a double double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
While OKC managed to pull away in the end this was a highly entertaining contest. The move to a smaller lineup provided big dividends and it will but up to the Clippers to be ready for that lineup in game 4. This is obviously a huge game for the Clippers. A win makes it a tied series, while a loss puts them on the brink of elimination.
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