Los Angeles

Chris Paul and the Clips stop Russell Westbrook, Thunder

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“He’s human, I guess, so he struggled a little bit, which was great.”

Doc Rivers, coach of the Clippers, couldn’t have put it any better. Referring of course to the recently super-human Russell Westbrook, the Clippers kept the OKC guard in check and came out of Oklahoma City with a 120-108 win on Wednesday night.

Westbrook finished the game with 24 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists – generally a productive night. However, add in 10 turnovers and compare that stat line to recent nights and you’ll see just how down to earth Westbrook fell. His five game streak of scoring 30+ points was also stopped, the longest such streak in the NBA this season. What did him in?

His counterpart in the game, Chris Paul.

“He’s competitive, so you want to play well in the matchup. You want to always win your matchup. But I think he wants to win the game.”

Another great quote by Doc Rivers. He was really on his game Wednesday night. Paul played well all night long, scoring at a high level and keeping Westbrook in check – allowing for his Clippers to get the win. As Doc Rivers put it: “Everyone else talks about all that other stuff. I think CP came into the game thinking, `Let’s beat Oklahoma’ and I think that’s why he played well.”

Out of the 10 turnovers that Westbrook committed, Paul was his primary defender 7 times. CP scored 33 points on the night, 20 of which came in the first half. He kept the game under control throughout the night, even earning praise from Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “Chris Paul, I thought he had the game under control. They had their way. The ball was playing with a lot of freedom tonight.” It was clear that Westbrook was the lesser of the two guards on Wednesday night.

Catch me if you can!

The Future…

Looks bright for the Thunder. At this point, Westbrook and co. are weathering a storm while Durant is on the sideline. Since being taken out of a contest on February 19th and undergoing surgery on February 22nd, Durant has done nothing but rest and rehab. According to Scott Brooks, Durant “is progressing” and “had another good workout day today,” but he’s certainly not ready to return to the lineup.

That’s a lineup that could be dangerous come playoff time. Imagine if you will…Russell Westbrook playing at an elevated level. Maybe not up to his recent standards, but contributing strong on the offensive side of the ball. Then, you add in the combination of Dion Waiters and Anthony Morrow – the latter of which dropped 26 points on the Clippers last night. Of course Serge Ibaka will anchor the power forward position, a threat on the glass and in the pain every night. Rotating big men Enes Kanter and Steven Adams gives you the size and post presence you need to complement Ibaka’s aggressive play. Finally, tie it all together with the 2014 MVP in Kevin Durant and you have one heck of a team.

Back to reality. The future may be bright, but in the here and now Oklahoma City needs to find some ways to win with its depleted lineup. Westbrook has done a good job of that so far, but Wednesday night showed he’s stoppable and more importantly, “human.”

MVP and Up Next

Chris Paul gets the nod for this game, not only playing well offensively but keeping the Thunder and Westbrook in check. That’s something a lot of teams can’t say they’ve accomplished recently.

The Thunder play on Friday when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Clippers play on Friday as well, they travel to Dallas to play the Mavericks.