Tahlequah Daily Press

Thunder/NBA

May 9, 2014

Series shifts out west for Thunder, Clippers

LOS ANGELES — The feeling out process is over. After Oklahoma City and Los Angeles split the first two games of their Western Conference semifinal, the teams can get to work. 

For the Thunder, that means putting behind the excitement of Kevin Durant winning the MVP and focus solely on stopping an angry Clippers squad in Game 3, which starts at 9:30 p.m. tonight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles..

 ”As the series goes along you have to forget about the last game and bring the same energy and focus and determination to the next game,” Oklahoma City Scott Brooks said. “We have to do the same thing in Los Angeles,. We know how they’re feeling. After you lose, you want to come back and redeem (yourself) and play much better. We have to come out with the same mindset, same approach and same determination that we had last game.” 

The headlines coming out of Game 2 focused on Durant and Russell Westbrook, and rightfully so. Westbrook posting his third triple-double and Durant coming one assist away from his own trifecta was key to the 112-101 victory.

“We set the bar high for ourselves,” Durant said. “We have a high standard that we try to reach. We work extremely hard. One thing about Russ, he demands so much out of everybody and brings the level of the team up with his intensity and his effort.” 

However, it was the Oklahoma City big men who caused just as much havoc for the Clippers. Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and rookie Steven Adams came close to shutting down the L.A. front court. They held Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to a combined 22 points on 8-for-17 shooting. 

Ibaka’s work on Griffin was particularly impressive. Even as Griffin tried to play bully ball and work his way into the paint, Ibaka didn’t allow him any uncontested shots or high flying dunks. 

 ”We had better command of the basketball, so open shots weren’t as easily available,” Brooks said. “We came out with a great defensive disposition. All five guys were locked in. That’s what it’s going to have to take to beat this team.” 

But L.A. coach Doc Rivers isn’t too concerned with Griffin. He says his all-star was just off his game a little. 

“Blake missed some great shots early on,” Doc Rivers said. “I think he was 1 for 8 at halftime. I would like six of those back. He missed point-blank looks at the rim, open shots. He’s going to get those shots and he’ll make almost 9 out of 10 most nights. You live with those.”

One player who made an impact and name for himself is Adams. He came off the bench to chime in for six points and five boards, but it was other aspects of his game that caught the Clippers’ attention.

“I like him,” Rivers said of Adams. “He’s a physical player. Red Auerbach used to always tell me, ‘You got to get agitators.’ And he’s one of those for sure. Red truly believed that. He said you got to have two or three on the team and they have him and Perk.”

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