LOS ANGELES — Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks has often said his team can win games playing any style it needs to. Whether it’s fast and furious or slow and methodical, they have shown an ability to adapt.
Facing Los Angles in a crucial Game 3 Friday, the Thunder needed to get forceful and physical. They did just that and defeated the Clippers 118-112 at the Staples Center.
“I think both teams played a physical, demanding style of play,” Brooks said. “Both teams can score and score in transition, score in halfcourt. It’s not only a physical demand, but it’s the mental stress each team puts on each other.”
The Thunder head into Sunday’s Game 4 of the best-of-seven series with a 2-1 lead. But it took some clutch shots and unexpected bench production to make it happen.
"I think we did a good job of weathering storms throughout the game and sticking together," Kevin Durant said "We're going to have to do even more next game if we want to win. It's probably going to be the toughest game of the series."
With the Thunder leading 102-101, Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka picked up his fifth foul. Instead of getting tentative, he scored the next four points with a drive to the basket and a put-back dunk.
The Clippers’ Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan powered their way for back-to-back baskets to close the deficit to a single point, but Thunder guard Russell Westbrook had an answer waiting for Los Angeles. He drained a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key to silence the more than 19,000 fans on hand.
After Chris Paul missed a 3-pointer, the Thunder got the ball to Kevin Durant outside the paint with Paul guarding him. He took a couple of dribbles and hit a turn-around jumper to put Oklahoma City up 113-107 with 1:12 left on the clock.