Blake Griffin dunks during Game 3 against the Thunder on Friday, May 9, 2014 at Staples Center. (Facebook/Los Angeles Clippers)
Although the Clippers evidently proved that home-court advantage isn’t always existent in the playoffs, the Thunder enforced that statement with a 118-112 victory over Los Angeles on Friday night.
Blake Griffin returned with vengeance and hope, and Chris Paul came into Game 3 with plans for a continuous rout of brilliant shooting throughout the night; they contributed highly to the scoreboard, but it wasn’t enough for a victory against Oklahoma City.
Here’s an in-depth look at why the Clippers failed to win Game 3:
Battle of the Boards: “Early I thought we allowed too many easy baskets, dunks and layups,” said Griffin. The Thunder out-rebounded the Clippers, 44-33. The substantial setback was in the advantage OKC had in defensive rebounds; they edged the Clippers, 34-19.
Bench Points: This game proved the battle of the benches is more relevant than most think. Former Clipper Caron Butler came off of OKC’s bench and scored nine of his 14 points in the final quarter, while also going three-for-five from three-point range in the fourth. Reggie Jackson had 14 points and Steve Adams also added two FGs. Aside from Jamal Crawford’s 20 points, which proved why he deserved Sixth Man of the Year, Darren Collison, Glen Davis, Danny Granger and Jared Dudley scored a measly eight points for the night.
Dynamic Duo: Of course, when entering the second round of the playoffs, Doc Rivers and his team knew that they were in for a long battle against OKC, which is undeniably led by the greatness and chemistry of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. In Game 3, they combined for 59 points. Durant led the scoring with 36 points and tallied eight rebounds and six assists while Westbrook had 23 points, eight rebounds and 13 assists.
Lack of Defense: Most LAC fans would agree with Rivers and say that the Thunder got everything that they wanted; treys, layups, and key second shots. But down the stretch, they made meaningful plays and it wouldn’t have happened if the Clippers defense remained strong throughout the night. “We put way too much pressure on our offense because our defense wasn’t working,” said Rivers.
Clutch City: The OKC Thunder maintained their fourth quarter lead and gave the Clippers a run for their money after Westbrook and Durant hit back-to-back buckets. Even after the late push and excessive effort from the Clippers, including a put-back layup by DeAndre Jordan, it wasn’t enough for a win. The Thunder had an answer for everything.
The victory moved the Thunder into a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is scheduled Sunday at Staples Center.