LOS ANGELES – With his team in a shooting slump earlier in the season and 3 of 21 out of 3 point range in the first half Monday night, Los Angeles Clippers coach Ty Lue kept his message simple at halftime.
“There was no other way but up,” he said.
Although the Clippers were nine points behind by the end of the fourth quarter, they found their shot contact just in time and rallied for a 99-94 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“I thought early on we were looking great. … Our boys on the bench started laughing: ‘We have wide open shots and we can’t take them,’ “Lue said.” I felt we were in a good place. “
Los Angeles ranked 26th in the NBA in field goal shooting, converting just 31.7% of its 3-pointers after setting a record of 41.1% last season. Against the Thunder it seemed more similar, especially after Josh Giddey’s Springer, 2:44 remaining, gave Oklahoma City 91:82 the lead.
But the Clippers (2: 4) finally found their rhythm in the last three minutes and took the lead with a 17: 3 run. They were 12 out of 21 against 3 in the second half, including 6 for 9 in the fourth quarter.
Paul George scored 32 points, including 15 in the closing stages. George, who also had nine rebounds and seven assists, scored eight points in the crucial sprint, including a 10-footer with 1:08 remaining, to give Los Angeles a 93-92 lead, the first since the beginning of the first quarter.
“Our team played a good defense. We held her tight. We got stops so we couldn’t deal with empty properties, ”said George, who scored 29 or more points in four of the Clippers’ six games. “We had to remain confident that shots would be fired.”
Reggie Jackson added 15 points while Luke Kennard and Nicolas Batum each scored 14 points.
“There was almost a dark cloud over us. We tried to keep it lighthearted, ”Jackson said of the shooting problems. “As long as Coach has given us the confidence.”
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 28 points, 15 of which in the third quarter for Oklahoma City (1-6), which led with 16 in the second quarter. Darius Bazley and Giddey each scored 15 points.
The Clippers cut the Thunder’s lead to two a couple of times in the fourth quarter, but Oklahoma City was able to go on runs for some breath. However, the Thunder could not fend off one last rally in Los Angeles.
“We didn’t do the pieces that we had to do. Overall, we gave ourselves a chance to win, but they got the game and we didn’t make it, ”said Thunder coach Mark Daigneault. “We showed great demeanor throughout the game right up to the last section. We would have liked to close it, but at the end of the day it is progress that we are on the road against a good team in these situations. “
Oklahoma City shot a 43-game streak from last season that allowed 100 or more points.
IMPROVEMENT OF RECEIVING
Los Angeles was outdone by at least 20 losses to Cleveland and Portland, but was leveled against the Thunder as both teams had 51 boards.
Derrick Favors 3-pointer in the first quarter gave the Thunder a 9-5 lead and was its first mark outside the arc since the 2019-20 season. The 11 year old veteran has only scored 37 3 points in his career.
Thunder: G Lu Dort missed the game due to a shoulder injury sustained at the Golden State on Saturday. … F Gabriel Deck was also out of the line-up because of a bruise on his left heel. … Aleksey Pokusevski had nine points and one assist in the second quarter.
Clippers: Los Angeles has set a season high for rebounds, including 12 from Isaiah Hartenstein. It was the center’s eighth career game in its third year with 12 or more boards. … Jackson went over 8,000 career points.
Thunder: Stay in Los Angeles to face the Lakers on Thursday.
Clippers: Visit Minnesota on Wednesday for the first consecutive game against the Timberwolves.