This was, in many ways, an unusual win for the Clippers. There was no huge comeback, or major collapse. There wasn’t any desperation at the end of the game, no “Cardiac Clippers” in effect. Instead, the Clippers took a double-digit lead in the first quarter, and led by a comfortable margin the rest of the way. The Thunder played hard, and made a few attempts at runs, but the Clippers were always there with a stop and a score, and inserted their will on the game from start to finish. The result was a truly easy victory against a top team on the road, a low-drama win that belies the difficulty of winning in OKC this year. Really, really good showing, especially on the defensive end.
Rest All Around: Doc Rivers was able to spread out minutes tonight, with only Kawhi Leonard (33) and Marcus Morris (30) playing over 30 minutes tonight. As the season draws towards its conclusion and the playoffs approach, it will be important for the Clippers to find time to rest their key players in preparation for the postseason. Every minute counts, and stealing some extra rest on what was projected to be a very tough game counts as a big win.
PG and Kawhi, Dominant: This was the type of performance the Clippers (and their two superstars) envisioned when Paul George and Kawhi Leonard came together last summer. Neither of them put forth a massive statline, but were the best players on the court on both ends of the court. On defense, the length of Leonard and George shut down driving lanes, disrupted shots, and generally made life difficult for the Thunder. On offense, each star was able to get to their spots and get shots up whenever they wanted, and neither of them appeared out of a rhythm or uncomfortable all game. Both guys look healthy, they’re locked in on each side of the ball, and they look more in sync than ever.
Second Place: With the Clippers win, and the Nuggets loss, the Clippers are now alone in second place in the Western Conference. They have two more tough games coming up, but after that their schedule gets lighter, and there’s a good chance they could have that 2 seed locked up by the end of March if they’re able to clean up against weaker opposition. As long as they stay healthy, the Clippers are in a great, great spot.