Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Steven Lieberman
Observer Reporter 

Clippers Win First Game For New Owner

 

November 3, 2014

The stage was finally set for the Los Angeles Clippers home opener on the day before Halloween. The NBA strategically chose the Oklahoma City Thunder, a great rival who eliminated the Clippers in the second round of the playoffs last season, to kick things off.

Commissioner Adam Silver was in attendance...maybe to make sure that former banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling didn't crash the party. Sterling's former wife and co-owner, Shelly, was sitting courtside in her usual seat, and so was new owner Steve Ballmer, in all of his usual splendid glory.

Actor/comedian Billy Crystal, long-time season ticket holder, was also present with his wife sitting in their usual seats.

There was just one thing missing...Thunder super-star and league-leader Kevin Durant, out for the start of the season with a right foot injury.

All the fans were hoping to see the dynamic duos face-off – Durant and Russell Westbrook vs. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.

It wasn't meant to be. Not only was Durant on the shelf with an injury, but Westbrook sustained a right-hand fracture in the second quarter and would not return to the game.

The injury-depleted Thunder still made it a challenge, losing 93-90, to the healthy Clippers, a game that came down to the wire.

After the game, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks spoke about the injuries to his two stars.

"It's unfortunate the way it is right now, but we have to figure out how to get better from all of our experiences," Brooks said. "Good teams and good players bounce back from adversity, and our guys understand that."

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers had mixed feelings about his team's performance after the game.

"We got stops tonight, but our wide-open shots were not going in," Rivers said. "Our offense wasn't working...we need to play at a better pace."

Rivers was also mad at new acquisition Spencer Hawes, about the last play of the game. The Thunder had no timeouts and Hawes needed to foul.

One bright spot that Rivers was happy about were the Clippers offensive rebounds which can lead to second-chance shots. They had 14 to the Thunder's eight.

Superstars Paul and Griffin also gave their perspectives after the game. Griffin scored 23 points, making two clutch free throws with five seconds left, and Paul added 22.

"We had jitters in the first game," Paul said. "We had to defend in order to win this game. That's what great teams are built off of, defense and rebounding."

Griffin was asked about the Clippers getting off to a slow start and also what he wants to bring to the team this season.

"The first half doesn't dictate the rest of the game," Griffin said. "I expect us to be better than we were tonight. Everybody is trying so hard, we just have to settle down and have trust that the system will work for us. I want to be a reliable guy down the stretch for our team, be a leader and be consistent."

Griffin also wasn't thrilled that the Clippers gave 39 defensive rebounds to the Thunder.

Lucky for the Clippers, Griffin's nemesis Serge Ibaka had a three-point buzzer-beater attempt hit the rim. He finished with 17 points and gave a solid performance at both ends of the floor.

Fortunately for the Clippers, they have 81 more games left in the season to fix and fine-tune their system.

 

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