With the Jazz handing the Spurs their first loss on Saturday and the Spurs thrashing the Warriors on opening night, the West was left with two undefeated teams. Last night, in a mudfight of a match, the Thunder prevailed over the Clippers (85-83) as king of the shit-pile. For two undefeated teams clashing, the game was unbearable―so bad I almost watched baseball (Cubs, it’s been like 110 years and you beat the Indians. Congrats?).
Westbrook missed out on his third straight triple-double and it wasn’t even close, unless you’re counting turnovers (10). Domantas Sabonis, better known as Arvydas Sabonis’ son until further notice, started the game and promptly picked up four fouls before coming in again in the third and immediately picking up his 5th. He somehow played less minutes than Jerami Grant who, in all honesty, I thought was still playing for the 76ers (my bad). Oh and nobody other than Westbrook scored in double figures for OKC. BUT. They got the W.
On the other side of the ball, the Clippers bench really outplayed the starters. CP3 had 9 assists, but 5 turnovers; JJ Redick shot 25% from the floor, Blake 33%. DeAndre Jordan had 6 boards. I honestly can’t remember the last time DeAndre pulled down less than 7 rebounds, unless we’re talking college basketball—and even then, I don’t watch college (it kind of feels like, why bother?). With the starting unit a combined -34 for the game, the bench squad of Austin Rivers, Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford, Brandon Bass, and Marreesse Speights went +29 over a combined 87 minutes. The team shot 39% from the field. A classic Clippers loss if I’ve ever seen one. Let’s hear what Stephen A. has to say, because I don’t know about you, but I need a laugh.
In the midst of the game, local broadcast announcer Michael Smith claimed the Oklahoma City Thunder would be a top four team in the West (look at that, I’m laughing again). And, I mean, hey: they’re undefeated. But I’m still skeptical and I don’t think I’m alone. Thus far they’ve beat a 76er’s team—which still hasn’t even found their floor—by 6; the Phoenix Suns by 3 in OT; and the Lakers, in the least impressive 17 point win I’ve ever seen. That’s not to say I’m sold on the Clippers. They’re probably top three in the West, but they’re going to have a hard time winning their way out of the conference with scuffle games like this and the fact that their best small forward in the last five years has been… Matt Barnes (I loooooove Matt Barnes, but his only real basketball accomplishment is 1st Team All-NBA Dirtyboy). Exhibit A:
To be fair, who hasn’t wanted to do that to Harden at least once?
Maybe I’m just spoiled. Maybe last season set the bar too high. The Warriors won 24 straight. The Spurs didn’t lose at home until game number 80. There were four 50 win teams in the West, two that eclipsed 60. Goddamn, the regular season’s going to be fun.