Thunder Get Their Signature Win

 

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Kevin Martin was off to a hot start with his new team, and the Oklahoma City Thunder were a solid 8-3 (tied for the fourth-best record in the league) through Tuesday. But something was missing.

None of OKC’s eight wins were all that impressive, the Thunder had played the third-easiest schedule in the league, and they had lost their only two games against real contenders (San Antonio and Memphis).

But on Wednesday, OKC hosted the Los Angeles Clippers, the only team in the league that ranks in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency. And in a game that may have got lost in all the League Pass drama that we saw Wednesday night, the Thunder got their signature win.

It wasn’t a dominant performance on either end of the floor, and the Clippers had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation. But the Thunder will take the victory no matter the circumstances, because they really did want that notch on their belt, as Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman writes

Not a soul on Oklahoma City’s side would dare confess to it before the game.

But the fact remained.

The Thunder needed a win Wednesday in the worse way. Not because wins have been in short supply this season, but because quality wins against quality opponents have been non-existent, calling into question how good this revamped Thunder team really is in the early part of this season.

“This is our 12th game,” Kevin Durant rebutted 90 minutes prior to tip. “It’s November.”

For once, the Thunder didn’t play like it.

Facing the red hot Los Angeles Clippers, the Thunder strung together one of its best performances yet and watched it result in an encouraging 117-111 overtime victory before a raucous sellout crowd of 18,203 inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“It was like a playoff game…in November,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.

Chris Paul played his worst game of the season (nine points on 2-for-14 shooting), but as Mayberry notes in his blog, Thabo Sefolosha had a lot to do with that…

Thabo Sefolosha was the player of this game. Scott Brooks did exactly what I thought he should do and that was start Sefolosha on Chris Paul and move Russell Westbrook to Willie Green. Not only did Brooks start the game that way, but he also stuck to it for the majority of the night. I said going in that Sefolosha had the potential to be the biggest difference-maker because of what he might be able to do with his defense and he turned in a terrific performance. By hounding Paul with size, length and relentlessness, Sefolosha disrupted the Clippers’ rhythm from the start and helped force Paul into one of his worst nights as a pro. Job well done.

The Thunder still have issues. Their starters struggle to score and their bench struggles to defend. Though they’ve won three straight games, they’ve allowed their opponents to score 110 points per 100 possessions over the last four. Despite their easy early schedule, they currently rank 12th in the league in defensive efficiency. And as we saw last year, that’s not good enough.

But the Thunder now have a victory they can hang their hat on. Next up is a trip to Boston and Philadelphia, their first multi-game trip of the season. Though neither team is currently at their best, road wins are always good wins. So the opportunity is there for OKC to continue to build some momentum toward their first matchup with L.A.’s other team on Dec. 7.

16 Comments

  1. Eli Odell J. says:

    Still thinkin they shoulda kept harden…. If it ain’t broke…..

  2. Review the Stats says:

    I hope OKC wins the championship this year. They are always fun to watch and I like the guys on this team.

  3. Woffie, are you kidding me? They have an excellent team and I have no doubts whatsoever that they will win the title at some stage and most likely sooner rather than later. Although Harden will be missed Martin has done incredibly well with us and is doing more than his fair share of work. When a team has the likes of Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka and Martin there is no way they cannot win the title at some stage. Not to mention fantastic support players like Perkins, Sefolosha and Collison. Lastly you only have to look at how far OKC have come along in such a short amount of time.

  4. Dawson Dawkins says:

    The Thunder are a solid contender this year. There are a couple of teams in each division that are as going to be tough games but every season has tough games. The win against the Clippers took a collective team effort. They had the best record in the west and a lot of media hype going into this game after a win in San Antonio the night before.

    The sports media tends to get carried away. Anthony Davis is turning out to be just above decent. The Laker super team is non existent. The effects of the James Harden trade is barely noticeable. Hot teams like NY, Memphis, and LAC will begin to pile up the losses.

    OKC and Miami are still the two top teams in the NBA.

  5. antoine says:

    SEFOLOSHA BEST DEFENDEROF THE NBA !!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. jover lopez says:

    Kevin Durant And Russell Westbrook Are the best young players right now and they shouldve never gotten rid of james harden

  7. yungmoney says:

    “…. L.A.’s other team…” Clever..

  8. cp3 the best pg says:

    not gonna make too much of this win caron was hurt which hurt our outside shooting that he brings and still took them to ot this was not a win for the thunder especially due to cp3 had the worst game of his career as well and to only win by 5 in ot still not sold on okc as a title contender

  9. Woffie says:

    Stop dreaming about the Thunder winning the title…may be a very good team and all, but they just don’t have it to be champions, at least with competition like the Heat, and it’s not that they are or have ever been one head above any other of the greats in the west as to easily pick them as western champs again this year…

  10. TC says:

    Every year, I heard it’s going to be a more balanced East / West conference. And I foresee it’s still going to be a hard fought West Conference, and East only has Heat; and Heat is going to say Thank You Very Much at the end because their Final opponent is going to be pretty worn out.

  11. kenny says:

    it’s to early to tell but I still think that the Thunder have a great chance of winning the titial this year but I think they will have a hard road with the Lakers,clippers,grizz,and spurs

  12. Game Time says:

    Great win for OKC. I’m a Clippers fan, and It was a great game to watch despite the loss. Refs were good, and both teams were figthing for it. I think we have gotten a preview of a possible playoff series last night.

  13. Evan says:

    About the loss against San Antonio, that game could’ve gone either way. Your statement made it sound like the Thunder didn’t have a chance, that games winning factor was whether Tony Parker would make his clutch shot. Which he did. If he missed it, who knows.

  14. Kevin Warren says:

    This is going to be a fun series to watch. OKC has a game up on the Clips but with the remaining two games in LaLa Land, the Clips could hold the advantage. OKC-SA, OKC-Memphis and OKC-Clips are must see TV.

  15. Hm says:

    The Lakers would have to actually beat one of these teams to do that though.