OKLAHOMA CITY —
“When he’s hitting 3s like that, it’s tough,” Thunder forward Nick Collison said of Paul. “We can definitely make it more difficult on him than we did (Monday). I think that’s where our focus is going to be, is how can we defend better?”
Paul scored 17 points and made five 3-pointers in the final 6:21 of the first quarter in Game 1, matching his career high for 3-pointers in a game in the first 12 minutes. By the end of the barrage, the Clippers had turned a 16-13 deficit into a 39-25 lead.
“When a guy hits five or six 3s in a row, you don’t want to give him some more, and that is when they started to get some stuff in the paint,” said Thunder forward Kevin Durant, who was named MVP on Tuesday.
Overall, the Clippers made 15 of 29 3-point attempts.
“The effort was there,” Durant said. “We had good intentions, but they got hot. We have got to correct it. We have to make them miss next game and be a little bit more physical.”
Paul said his shots came from good ball movement and good screens.
“It wasn’t like I was making unbelievable shots, it was because the court was open,” he said. “When I had two defenders I gave it to Blake, and that’s what put so much pressure on the defense because BG (Griffin) is such a great passer.”
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said teamwork was the key to the offense’s success Monday night. Los Angeles shot 55 percent and committed just nine turnovers.
“The ball didn’t stick,” he said. “The ball moved. Everything was quick. Quick decisions, quick drives, quick shots. There was not a lot of hesitation. If we play like that, we’ll be good.”
Though it was a good start, the Clippers say there’s a long way to go if they are to reach the Western Conference finals for the first time.