The swift, below-the-belt blow delivered to Blake Griffin by Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka pushed the Clippers forward, helping them culminate a rally that turned what was once a 19-point deficit into a one-point lead with an unusual seven-point surge.
But in the end, the flagrant 1 foul Ibaka committed against Griffin late in the game Sunday didn't deter the Thunder, which kept its composure with the game in the balance and pulled out a tense 108-104 victory over the Clippers at Staples Center.
The defeat meant the Clippers lost the season series to the Thunder, 3-0, and dropped them 11/2 games behind Oklahoma City for the second-best record in the Western Conference.
Perhaps of more pressing concern, the Clippers (43-19), though two games ahead of fourth-place Memphis (39-19), are tied with the Grizzlies in the loss column. The teams play each other twice more.
The Thunder got by the Clippers on Sunday primarily because of 35 points, nine rebounds and four assists from Kevin Durant and 29 points, 10 assists and six rebounds from Russell Westbrook.
"We never give up," said Chris Paul, who had 26 points, eight assists and four steals. "Most teams are like that. They are just going to keep fighting. We came up short. It seemed like every time something happened, we just couldn't get over the hump."
Clippers are laid low at finish in 108-104 loss to Thunder
Los Angeles Times | Mar 4