Los Angeles Clippers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: Postgame Grades and Analysis

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 07:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder celebrates a three-point shot against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 7, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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After losing home-court advantage in Game 1, the Oklahoma City Thunder bounced back in Game 2, beating the Los Angeles Clippers 112-101 and tying the series 1-1.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were a phenomenal one-two punch, combining for 63 points, 22 rebounds and 19 assists. L.A. had no answer to OKC's explosive duo all game.

Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha also reached double digits, scoring 14 points a piece.

The Clippers had a balanced scoring effort, as six players got to double digits, but they couldn't do enough defensively to stifle the Thunder's high-powered attack.

J.J. Redick led L.A. with 18 points. Chris Paul had a double-double with 17 points and 11 assists. Blake Griffin pitched in with 15 points.

 

Key Player Grades: Oklahoma City Thunder

Kevin Durant, Small Forward

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 07:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder takes a shot against DeAndre Jordan #6 and Matt Barnes #22 of the Los Angeles Clippers in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake E
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On the night he received his first MVP trophy, Durant lit the Clippers up from the start of the game. He scored 17 of his 32 points in the first quarter and established the tone for OKC.

As usual, Durant got his buckets in a variety of ways, hitting threes, getting to the rim and scoring from mid-range. 

He collected a lot more than points, too, adding 12 rebounds and nine assists in a fantastic all-around effort.

Grade: A+

 

Russell Westbrook, Point Guard

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 07:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts after fouled by DeAndre Jordan #6 of the Los Angeles Clippers in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Westbrook gets plenty of flak for perhaps hunting his shot a bit too much, but his aggression was nothing but positive for the Thunder on Wednesday.

He relentlessly attacked Paul and Darren Collison throughout the game and really didn't take many ill-advised shots. That's why he went 13-of-22 from the field on his way to 31 points.

Perhaps more important that his scoring was the fact that Westbrook still managed to play facilitator as well, racking up 10 assists to go with his 10 rebounds.

Grade: A+

 

Serge Ibaka, Power Forward/Center

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 07:  Serge Ibaka #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder dribbles the ball against J.J. Redick #4 and Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake
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Ibaka had a fairly quiet game, but he was still pretty effective, playing his role and not trying to do any more than necessary.

He finished with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting and pulled DeAndre Jordan away from the rim by knocking down a few mid-range jumpers.

He also had several fantastic defensive isolations against Griffin in the post, forcing him into some awkward moves that contributed to Griffin's tough night from the field.

Grade: A

 

Thabo Sefolosha, Shooting Guard

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 07:  Thabo Sefolosha #25 of the Oklahoma City Thunder takes a shot against J.J. Redick #4 of the Los Angeles Clippers in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 7
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Sefolosha's energy on defense and a few fast breaks were critical components of a third-quarter run that helped the Thunder put the game away.

He finished with a personal playoff-high 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting, but more importantly, he swiped three steals that helped secure momentum for OKC.

Grade: A-

 

Kendrick Perkins, Center

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - May 5, 2014: Kendrick Perkins #5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder goes up for the layup against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Chesapeake Arena on May 5, 2014 in
Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

Another surprise performance for the Thunder came from Kendrick Perkins, who more than doubled the production he averaged in the regular season by logging eight points and nine rebounds.

Like Ibaka, he too did a good job defensively on the inside, helping to hold Griffin and Jordan in check.

Grade: A-

 

Caron Butler, Small Forward

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 5: Reggie Jackson #15 of the Oklahoma City Thunder handles the ball against Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Chesapeake Arena on May
Richard Rowe/Getty Images

After Reggie Jackson struggled mightily in the sixth-man role in Game 1, Butler got the most minutes of any reserve in Game 2.

He had a tough time as well, going just 1-of-5 for three points in his shot at being the main option off the bench.

Grade: F

 

Bench

Jackson had his issues again on Wednesday, shooting 2-of-5 from the field in just 13 minutes. As is usually the problem with Jackson, he was trying too hard to play like Westbrook, without having the same level of talent.

The bright spot off the bench was Steven Adams, who frustrated Griffin and Paul by playing his typically physical brand of basketball. He scored six points and grabbed five rebounds in 17 minutes.

Grade: C

 

Key Player Grades: Los Angeles Clippers

Chris Paul, Point Guard

May 5, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) handles the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) during the second quarter in game one of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy A
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Paul got into foul trouble early, which is part of why the Thunder were able to jump on the Clippers early. When he came back in, he helped his team get back in the game in the second quarter, though it ultimately wasn't enough.

He still managed to log a double-double despite the early fouls, scoring 17 points and dishing out 11 assists. But his struggles with Westbrook defensively may have outweighed what he did on the other end in Game 2.

Grade: B-

 

Blake Griffin, Power Forward

May 7, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) drives to the basket against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) during the second quarter in game two of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeak
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It looked like Griffin allowed the physical play of Ibaka, Perkins and Adams to get into his head, as he complained to the refs following most of his possessions and got into it with Adams a couple times.

As OKC's bigs bodied up on Griffin inside, he would start throwing his body into the defenders, snapping his head back and looking for any kind of help from the refs. When that didn't come, he'd throw up some kind of crazy flip shot.

That led to a 5-of-13 performance from the field and just 15 points.

Grade: C

 

DeAndre Jordan, Center

May 5, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) misses a free throw against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the third quarter in game one of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandato
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Perhaps more important than the surprise points and rebounds from Perkins was the way he neutralized Jordan.

L.A.'s center has had some monstrous games in the postseason, but against Perkins, he came up with just eight rebounds and seven points.

Grade: C-

 

J.J. Redick, Shooting Guard

May 7, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick (4) handles the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) during the first quarter in game two of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy
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Redick was huge in the first half and was probably the Clippers' second-best player after Paul on Wednesday.

He finished the game with a team-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, but he wasn't able to get any rebounds or assists and didn't do much against the defense of Sefolosha after the break.

Grade: B

 

Matt Barnes, Small Forward

May 7, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) handles the ball against Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes (22) during the second quarter in game two of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake En
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Barnes was decent offensively, scoring 11 points while knocking down three of seven three-point attempts.

But his role in this series has to be slowing down Durant, and he wasn't able to do that in Game 2.

Grade: C+

 

Jamal Crawford, Shooting Guard

May 5, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford (11) handles the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder guard Derek Fisher (6) during the second quarter in game one of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Ener
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In a game in which L.A. needed an offensive spark to keep up with the explosiveness of Durant and Westbrook, they didn't get much from 2014's Sixth Man of the Year.

In 22 minutes, Crawford went 2-of-13 from the field and scored just seven points. He threw up jumper after jumper but failed to get into any kind of rhythm. 

Grade: F

 

Bench

L.A. actually had two bench players who performed pretty well. Glen Davis grabbed six rebounds and went 5-of-7 from the field for 10 points. Darren Collison scored 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting.

Danny Granger, Jared Dudley and Willie Green went 1-of-7 for three points.

Grade: C

 

What's Next?

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 7: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder handles the ball against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on May 7, 2014 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklah
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

The Clippers will have to do a better job of handling the physicality and pressure that OKC brought in Game 2, particularly inside.

On the other end, the Thunder need to keep up this kind of effort. They now know they can get in Griffin's head, which will be important over the course of the series.

Game 3 is set for Friday, May 9, at 10:30 p.m. ET.

 

Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report.