Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Clippers: Game 3 Grades and Analysis

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Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Clippers: Game 3 Grades and Analysis
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The Oklahoma City Thunder have regained home-court advantage after a 118-112 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers that puts them up 2-1 in the series.

Kevin Durant scored a game-high 36 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists. His partner in crime, Russell Westbrook, had a huge game as well. He poured in 23 points, handed out 13 assists and had eight rebounds.

The Clippers were led by their high-powered duo as well.

Chris Paul had a monster double-double with 21 points and 16 assists, while Blake Griffin scored 34 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

 

Key Player Grades: Oklahoma City Thunder

Kevin Durant, Small Forward

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For 46 minutes, Durant had to carry the load for the Thunder. He was very reliable.

He finished the game with 36 points, eight rebounds and six assists. He was excellent in the face of intense defense from Matt Barnes, shooting 14-of-24 from the field.

It's fair to wonder if this heavy responsibility will start to take a toll on Durant, but OKC really has no choice but to play this way. And on Wednesday, he did get plenty of help while he was on the floor.

Grade: A+

 

Russell Westbrook, Point Guard

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Westbrook was one of a few players who showed that Durant's not completely alone. He didn't have to play quite as many minutes but was fantastic in the 37 he got.

On Friday, he finished with a huge double-double, scoring 23 points and dishing out 13 assists. He also grabbed eight rebounds, putting him within striking distance of back-to-back triple-doubles.

He was never really out of control, picking his spots to attack and not settling for jump shots. 

He didn't do a great job on Paul defensively, but who can? And his contributions on the other end made up for whatever he lacked defensively, particularly down the stretch when he hit a cold-blooded three that gave his team a two-possession lead.

Grade: A+

 

Serge Ibaka, Power Forward/Center

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A big narrative with the Thunder every year is whether or not they'll get a third guy to consistently step up after Durant and Westbrook.

The guy who's most typically filled that role is Serge Ibaka, and he was fantastic in Game 3. He started the game 7-of-7 from the field, as he was nailing elbow jumper after elbow jumper. He finished with 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting.

He was also charged with defending Griffin all night, who aggressively threw his body, arms and even face into Ibaka on several possessions.

Grade: A

 

Thabo Sefolosha, Shooting Guard

After playing a critical role in Game 2, Thabo Sefolosha was a nonfactor in Friday's Game 3.

He played just 15 minutes and finished with one point on 0-of-2 shooting.

Grade: F

 

Kendrick Perkins, Center

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

As has been the case many times this season, Kendrick Perkins was thoroughly outplayed by his backup. 

OKC's starting center finished with four points on 2-of-5 shooting, to go along with three rebounds in 22 minutes.

Grade: D-

 

Reggie Jackson, Shooting Guard/Point Guard

Reggie Jackson struggled in the first two games of the series, but he came up big in the sixth-man role for the Thunder on Wednesday.

He scored 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting and did a great job of putting pressure on L.A.'s defense with some great drives to the rim.

His offense off the bench is critical, considering OKC doesn't get much of that from its starting shooting guard.

Grade: B+

 

Bench

Two other Thunder players were great off the bench.

Steven Adams played just 18 minutes, but he was great on defense and on the boards. He finished with nine rebounds and four points.

Caron Butler was the other reserve who wound up being a huge factor. He nailed three critical three-pointers in the fourth quarter that helped OKC gain momentum. He went for 14 points in the game.

Grade: C

 

Key Player Grades: Los Angeles Clippers

Chris Paul, Point Guard

Noah Graham/Getty Images

We definitely can't blame Paul for the Clippers' Game 3 loss. He played a darn-near perfect offensive game for a point guard, scoring 21 points, dishing out 16 assists and committing zero turnovers.

As usual, he was in complete control of every possession for the Clippers, leading them to 112 points.

The problem was on the other end. It's tough to fault him for being unable to stay in front of the incredibly explosive Westbrook, but such was the case. 

Grade: A

 

Blake Griffin, Power Forward

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During the fourth quarter, Bleacher Report's Adam Fromal commented to the rest of us at work, "Griffin might have the best ugliness/effectiveness ratio on post moves in the whole NBA."

If you've watched Griffin play at all this year, you know exactly what Fromal is talking about.

At times, he looks wildly out of control inside, flailing his entire body at his defender before throwing up some kind of wild shot that often goes in.

It was plenty effective during Game 3, as he finished with 34 points on 13-of-22 shooting. He also grabbed eight rebounds and racked up four assists.

Grade: A

 

DeAndre Jordan, Center

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DeAndre Jordan did what he does best Friday: attacking the boards, finishing around and defending the rim, and not demanding much of his teammates.

He doesn't need touches on offense to be happy but still ends up scoring double figures pretty often. In Game 3, he had 11 boards, 10 points and three blocks.

Grade: B

 

J.J. Redick, Shooting Guard

The Clippers got almost nothing from the guy who's been their third scorer more often than anyone else this season.

J.J. Redick scored just five points on 1-of-6 shooting. And since that's about all he's in the game to do, the poor shooting performance hurts even more.

Grade: F

 

Matt Barnes, Small Forward

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

You can't say Barnes didn't try to stop Durant. He certainly gave it his best shot, but there are a few guys who simply cannot be stopped, and Durant's at the top of that list.

On the other end, Barnes was solid, scoring 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting. L.A. just needed him to be more accurate from long range, as he was just 1-of-6 on threes.

Grade: C

 

Jamal Crawford, Shooting Guard

Jamal Crawford scored 20 points off the bench, but it took him 18 shots to get there. And like Redick, he doesn't do much beyond score.

Since a lot of his 12 missed shots were long jumpers, Crawford gave the Thunder some long rebounds that were essentially opportunities for the Thunder to run.

Grade: C

 

Bench

Darren Collison, Glen Davis and Jared Dudley were the other Clippers who got some burn off the bench, though it wasn't much.

Combined, they went 2-of-8 for five points.

Grade: F

 

What's Next?

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

It's obviously easier said than done, but the Clippers have to figure out some way to at least slow Durant and Westbrook down.

For the Thunder, they'll need the supporting cast to continue to play well if they want to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

Game 4 is set for Sunday, May 11, at 3:30 p.m. ET.

 

Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report.

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