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

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Los Angeles Clippers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: Postgame Grades and Analysis
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Russell Westbrook scored 38 points, Kevin Durant added 27 and the Oklahoma City Thunder rallied from a 13-point deficit with just over four minutes to go to shock the Los Angeles Clippers, 105-104, at Chesapeake Energy Arena Tuesday night, taking a 3-2 lead in their second-round Western Conference playoff series.

Two nights after seeing a 16-point fourth-quarter lead evaporate, the Thunder turned the tables on the Clippers in Game 5, taking advantage of several uncharacteristic mistakes by Chris Paul and a somewhat controversial call down the stretch.

After turning the ball over, Paul fouled Westbrook on a three-point attempt with 11 seconds remaining. Westbrook would sink all three free throws, putting the Thunder up one.

Prior to that foul, though, Reggie Jackson had the ball deflected out of bounds, giving the Thunder an extra possession. However, replays showed that the ball appeared to have gone off Jackson's hands and out of bounds.

OKC coach Scott Brooks thinks Jackson was fouled on that play, anyway.

Los Angeles had a shot to win the game, but Paul committed another turnover to seal the victory for Oklahoma City.

This contest marked only the second time all year the Clippers lost a game in which they led heading into the fourth quarter. The other time came in Game 3 of this series.

The Thunder won despite a miserable 6-of-22 outing from Durant. As a team, OKC shot only 42.9 percent from the floor. It made up for that at the free-throw line, however, making 32 of its 36 foul shots.

L.A. shot 43.2 percent from the field and didn't enjoy nearly the same amount of success as the Thunder at the charity stripe, going 16-of-20.

Game 6 is at 10:30 p.m. ET on Thursday night at the Staples Center.

 

Key Player Grades

Los Angeles Clippers

Chris Paul, Point Guard

Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

This was a night to forget for Chris Paul.

Sure, he had 17 points. Yes, he dished out a hefty 14 assists. And yeah, he collected four steals.

But Paul's play during the final 20 seconds of this game was flat-out terrible.

First, with the Clippers up by two with just under 20 ticks to go, Paul was stripped, and after Reggie Jackson had the ball knocked out of bounds with just over 11 seconds to go, the Thunder had possession with an opportunity to tie or go ahead.

Paul then fouled Russell Westbrook on a three-point attempt, and Westbrook stepped to the line and made all three free throws.

Finally, down one with six seconds to go, Paul drove the lane and then turned the ball over for the fifth time, ending the game.

Plus, CP3 did not shoot the ball well, going only 6-of-16 and misfiring on four of his five three-point attempts.

Superstars are held to the highest of standards, so Paul's grade suffers accordingly.

Grade: C

 

Blake Griffin, Power Forward

Richard Rowe/Getty Images

Blake Griffin was outstanding.

He achieved a double-double in the first half, racking up 15 points and 10 rebounds in the first 24 minutes.

Griffin continued his assault on the Thunder in the second half, scoring in the post and on mid-range jump shots to really spread the Clippers offense out.

What I liked most about Griffin's performance was how he took what the defense gave him. When the Thunder left him open from 18 feet out, he made them pay with jumpers. When Kevin Durant defended him, he took him into the post. When Kendrick Perkins or Steven Adams ventured out to guard him, he put the ball on the floor and took them to the basket.

Smart basketball.

The star forward finished with 24 points and 17 rebounds, shooting 10-of-20 from the floor.

Grade: A

 

DeAndre Jordan, Center

DeAndre Jordan struggled mightily.

Most of that had to do with foul trouble, as Jordan picked up three quick fouls in the first half and then accumulated two more in the third quarter, making it extremely difficult for him to become engaged. Finally, late in the fourth, Jordan fouled out.

Even when Jordan was on the floor, his impact was minimal.

There were no trademark alley-oop throwdowns off rolls to the basket, no blocked shots and no dominance on the glass, either, as Jordan only grabbed four rebounds.

He went scoreless in 20 minutes.

Grade: F

 

J.J. Redick, Shooting Guard

Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

J.J. Redick had the hot hand in the first half, burying three triples and going 5-of-8 overall for 13 points. He set the tone for the Clippers early, scoring 10 of his 13 in the first quarter.

Redick did a great job of running his defenders off screens to get himself open from beyond the arc or in between for mid-range jumpers.

The Duke product scored 16 points off 6-of-12 shooting, going 3-of-6 from long distance.

Grade: B+

 

Matt Barnes, Small Forward

Matt Barnes was awesome.

The hard-nosed wing posted a double-double, registering 16 points and 10 rebounds. He went 5-of-8 from the floor, making four of his five long-range attempts.

He also played incredible defense on Kevin Durant, harassing him off the ball and getting right up in his jersey whenever the MVP had possession.

It's too bad such a gutsy effort had to come in a loss.

Grade: A-

 

Jamal Crawford, Sixth Man

After going only 1-of-7 over the first 24 minutes, Jamal Crawford came out blazing in the second half, scoring 16 of his 19 points and successfully completing what has essentially become an obligatory four-point play.

Still, Crawford was hardly efficient overall, going 7-of-22 from the floor and posting a minus-10.

All of those misses hurt the Clippers dearly, and many of them were very good looks.

Crawford needs to be better in Game 6.

Grade: C-

 

Bench

Glen Davis gave the Clippers some huge minutes, tallying four points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes of duty.

His biggest play of the game came with under a minute to go in the fourth quarter when he grabbed a rebound off a missed free throw by Griffin, creating an extra possession and allowing Paul to hit a jumper to put L.A. up by seven.

Danny Granger did a solid job in the first half, scoring seven points off 2-of-3 shooting.

Darren Collison, the hero of Game 4, was nonexistent, scoring only one point in 10 minutes.

Grade: C+

 

Oklahoma City Thunder

Kevin Durant, Small Forward

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Kevin Durant endured one of the toughest nights of his career in Game 5.

The MVP missed 14 of his first 17 shots, bricking most of his looks. While he may not have shown it with any facial expressions, he was clearly getting frustrated, as Durant began forcing off-balance shots that did not even come close to tickling the twine.

However, Durant righted the ship just in time, making three of his final five field-goal tries, including a three-pointer and then a layup to bring the Thunder to within two with 17 seconds remaining.

Durant shot 6-of-22 overall, but he made up for that a bit by going a perfect 12-of-12 from the free-throw line.

KD also chipped in on the boards, grabbing 10 rebounds.

All things considered, for all of the talk that Westbrook holds Durant back, he actually bailed him out in Game 5.

Grade: C

 

Russell Westbrook, Point Guard

USA TODAY Sports

The Thunder won this game for one primary reason, and that reason was Russell Westbrook.

The star guard was sensational for most of the night, particularly in the third quarter, where he scored 14 of his 38 points.

Westbrook was in attack mode from the get-go, going right at the Clippers big men and getting them into foul trouble early.

He made several acrobatic layups and willed his way to the free-throw line, going 14-of-16 from the stripe.

However, Westbrook did take some wild shots in the fourth quarter as his offense came to a halt. He missed some perimeter jumpers and forced some shots around the rim, getting a bit out of control at times.

He was then bailed out by Paul with about six seconds to go, as Westbrook took a rather ill-advised three-pointer but was fouled by CP3. He made all three free throws, which proved to be the deciding moment of the game.

Still, given how spectacular he was for the first three quarters, it's hard to get on Westbrook because of a few bad shots down the stretch.

He shot 11-of-23 from the floor and also handed out six assists.

Grade: A+

 

Serge Ibaka, Power Forward

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Like Jordan, Serge Ibaka spent the first half in foul trouble, racking up three fouls during the first two quarters.

Because of that, Ibaka found it difficult to get into any kind of rhythm, and as a result, the deadly mid-range jumper that we are used to seeing out of him just wasn't there.

Ibaka scored eight points off 4-of-8 shooting, grabbing only seven rebounds.

The Thunder rely on him to be their third scoring option most nights, and he didn't come through in Game 5.

Fortunately, Westbrook was so sensational that it didn't matter.

Grade: C

 

Kendrick Perkins, Center

Kendrick Perkins only played 22 minutes, tallying two points and four rebounds. He shot 1-of-4 from the floor.

That was basically the extent of Perkins' contributions, although he did set some good screens.

Grade: C-

 

Thabo Sefolosha, Small Forward

Thabo Sefolosha put in a couple of quick buckets in the first quarter, including a stuff right over Jordan.

He would proceed to stay within himself for the rest of the game, making do with the 18 minutes he received.

Sefolosha scored eight points off 4-of-5 shooting and also pulled down four rebounds.

The turnaround jumper he had out of the post in the third quarter was impressive, too.

Grade: B+

 

Reggie Jackson, Sixth Man

Reggie Jackson was unable to get it going offensively.

The backup floor general went only 2-of-5 from the floor, totaling eight points. He did, however, collect seven rebounds in 25 minutes.

That being said, if Durant has another game like this in this series and Ibaka gets into foul trouble again, OKC will need more from its sixth man.

Grade: C

 

Bench

Steven Adams gave OKC a nice lift, tallying nine points and four rebounds. He also did a great job of contesting shots (he blocked two shots) and even closing out on three-point shooters.

The pickings were slim after Adams' contributions, though.

Caron Butler went 1-of-3 in his 17 minutes, scoring three points on a lone triple.

Nick Collison scored two points and posted a minus-12.

Grade: C-

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