Game Notes: Thunder at Clippers
Perkins is poster child for Griffin.
Better believe it.
“Well, it happens. It was a clean dunk. It was a great play he made. Obviously, I wish it wasn’t,” said the Oklahoma City Thunder big man after Griffin posterized him in the Los Angeles Clippers‘ 112-100 victory on Monday night at Staples Center.
Griffin took off from the left side of the key at the 8:52 mark of the third quarter. Perkins challenged him, of course. Before he knew it, however, Perkins was in no-man’s land. Griffin was airborne, well above the rim. Perkins attempted to push him out of the key, to no avail, mind you. Griffin finished with authority, despite being hacked in the act.
The rest, as they so often say, is history.
Staples Center erupted after the play. Everyone was on their feet. All the players on the Clippers bench included. Griffin was bum-rushed by DeAndre Jordan. The only thing left to do was peer up toward the scoreboard above and wait for the replay.
“It was unbelievable, we’ll be seeing that dunk for years to come. Honestly, I can’t wait to go home and see it again myself,” Chauncey Billups said.
CP3 is referring to Griffin’s infamous dunk over Timofey Mozgov right around this time last year. “This time I hit the rim,” Griffin said.
Kevin Durant wasn’t impressed. “I don’t care about that dunk,” he said in the visitors locker room about 45 minutes after the final seconds ticked off the clock.
Nearly lost in all of the commotion surrounding the Griffin dunk was the fact the Clippers scored a particularly impressive victory over Oklahoma City. The win, in fact, could legitimize them as serious contenders in the Western Conference race.
*** Caught up with Russell Westbrook about an hour before the start of things and we talked about his roots in Los Angeles. He played his high school ball at nearby Leuzinger in Lanwdale and a pit-stop at UCLA followed. “It’s nice to be home,” Westbrook said. “I had a chance to visit some family and friends. It feels like I never left this place. Always glad to be back.”
*** James Harden was out the court, well before the opening tipoff. He was working on his jumper under the watchful eye of Thunder coach Scott Brook. Harden was seemingly unfazed, knocking down shot after shot from out on the perimeter.
*** Had the opportunity to sit down and briefly chat with Ralph Lawler, the longtime Clippers announcer. You know who I’m talking about, I hope, the older distinguished gentleman who coined the phrase: “Oh me, oh my!” He had some rather interesting things to say in the short conversation over some dinner in the media room beforehand.
*** Speaking of the media room, it was packed with reporters and various camera crews, similar to what you’d find for a big-time Los Angeles Lakers game. Times sure have changed around here. Kobe Bryant & Co. are no longer the hottest ticket in town.
*** One might have known Griffin was on the verge of big things considering how relaxed and loose he looked in the layup line. It appeared as if he had some extra bounce, if that’s humanly possible. Then again, after Monday, apparently anything it possible.
*** Harden goes to the hole with his left. Of course. Never seen him use his right. Jordan says no way and swats the layup into the second row of floor seats. The two share some choice words. Jordan smiles, presumably because he got the better of the exchange.
*** Perkins shoots a jumper. Brick. Serge Ibaka does the same. Brick. Can’t imagine that’s how Brooks drew things up on the chalkboard beforehand. It could be a long night for the Thunder if this continues.
*** Jordan gets loose underneath and dunks. He’s fouled in the process and heads to the free-throw line. This should be interesting given the fact he’s making 47 percent of his attempts from the stripe. He makes the freebie. Wow. Can’t believe it. Clippers up 26-15.
*** Caron Butler is feeling it early. He strokes a three from the corner. A floater in the lane follows. Another three from the corner. From way downtown, money, Butler’s third make from beyond the arc.
*** Durant is sick. Smoothest stroke I’ve seen in quite sometime. Perhaps ever. He buries a mid-range jumper. There’s still time left in first and Durant already has 11 points. Sick, I tell you. He could go for 50 points tonight.
*** Reggie Evans is getting some run for the Clippers. The fan favorite is fouled, steps to the line and the chants begin: “Reggie… Reggie… Reggie…” He sinks 1-2 from the stripe. Evans exits shortly thereafter to some scattered MVP chants. Clippers fans are out their mind.
*** Durant is at it again. He nails a three-ball. Thunder still trails though, 44-31.
*** Westbrook misses a monster dunk from the left wing. Mo Williams is lucky too, he would have ended up on multiple highlight reels for all the wrong reasons if Westbrook would have punched that one home.
*** That’s more like it, Jordan misses a pair of free throws. If he could figure out some way to improve that facet of his game, sky’s the limit. We could be talking about a potential NBA All-Star. That might be a bit of a stretch. Nevertheless, Clippers lead, 48-33.
*** Griffin is awfully quiet. He’s in the lineup, granted, but not doing much at all. Difficult to believe he has not been mentioned at least three times in the first half. Something’s up.
*** Williams three-pointer. Butler three-pointer. Williams with another from long distance. Billups with one of his own from the beyond the arc. What a run by the Clippers. At the break, they’re up, 64-46. Thunder had better fine some answers. And quick. If not, they could bounced out of the building.
*** Griffin comes out strong and scores six straight points. Where’s that intensity been all night? Better late than, I suppose.
*** Durant answers with an 11-footer. Not sure how he does it, but Durant makes everything appear to be so effortless. He can’t do it on his own though. Dude needs help from someone. Westbrook, perhaps. Maybe Harden. If the Thunder are going to mount a comeback, it must begin now.
*** No. He. Didn’t.
*** Yes. He. Did.
*** Griffin just took off on Perkins. Hold up, let me see this replay before I finish typing. Unbelievable. Paul feeds Griffin a great pass and he takes care of the rest, dunking on Perkins. Another replay. Even more unbelievable. Griffin was fouled on the play too. He steps to the line and knocks down the freebie. Have a funny feeling that we’re going to hear about this dunk for a while. Clippers lead, 73-51. It’s official, this one has gotten away from the Thunder.
*** On a quick personal note, glad I decided to cover this game. Won’t soon forget it. Shout out to Ben, Ryne and the whole SLAM Fam. Glad to be back in the mix.
*** This is getting ridiculous. Durant and Westbrook account for the final 17 points for Oklahoma City. No help, whatsoever, from their teammates. My guess is: The Thunder are thinking about their next flight already. Clippers are way out in front, 90-70, at the end of three.
*** More replays of the Griffin dunk. Crowd is still going wild. Perkins does not want to watch. Can’t blame him. This is great, he’s purposely looking away scoreboard. You can run, but you can’t hide Perkins. Odds are, that highlight is going to haunt him forever.
*** Evans and Ibaka get into to it. A double technical is called. Looks like cooler are heads will prevail. Got to give Ibaka a little credit. That’s about as much fight as the Thunder has shown all night.
*** With a 109-95 advantage and 1:19 left on the clock, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro empties his bench. The starters are greeted with standing ovation. Rightfully so.
*** As expected, the Clippers’ locker room, Griffin’s spot in particular, was mobbed with reporters. The topic on everyone’s mind, the one-on-one duel with Perkins at the rim. “When someone contests the dunk, and you get the and-1, things slow down a little bit,” Griffin said. “By the crowd’s reaction, you can kind of gauge things. It happens, then you hear the crowd.”
*** More on his reaction afterward: “DeAndre had me in an arm-lock. I couldn’t breath,” Griffin said.
*** The anticipation for Monday’s game was undeniable. Turns out, the Clippers were more prepared, a fact Brooks addressed in the news conference afterward. “They’re the best team we’ve played all season,” he said. “They have everything. They played well. They took it to us. We have work to do.”
*** Aside from the obvious, the Griffin dunk, perhaps the turning point of the game was the way the Clippers played in the final minutes of the first half. Paul was largely, though not solely responsible for the scoring sequence. He did, after all, hand out multiple assists in the second quarter and finished with 14 for the game. Paul also scored 26 points. “Four threes in under a minute, and not only did we make the shots, it was how we did it,” Paul said. “We moved the ball, just the excitement of it.”