Lou Williams, clippers
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Los Angeles, CA — The Los Angeles Clippers (38-29) have put themselves one step closer to making the NBA Playoffs, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder (40-26) 118-110 on Friday night with strong efforts from Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams.

It started off with Gallinari shooting lights out in the first quarter, tallying up 15 points, which accounted for nearly half of the team’s points. On the opposite end, Russell Westbrook was his usual self, matching Gallinari with 15 first-quarter points. That wasn’t enough to put OKC on top, however, as the visiting Thunder found themselves down 36-32 at the end of the first.

The second quarter started off slow, with neither team making a shot for nearly two minutes before Markieff Morris made a tip shot to put OKC within two. Nerlens Noel then made a pair of free throws to tie the game before “Sweet” Lou Williams floated a nine-footer softly into the net for the Clippers. Williams scored the last four points of the half as well to give the home team a 68-56 lead going into halftime.    

The Thunder switched up their defense the second half, deciding to try and play more man-to-man instead of switching on the screen, which was the team’s weakness in the first half.  It seemed to suit them early in the third quarter, as the Clippers only made two baskets within the first four minutes. However, that strategy backfired on them later.  

Oklahoma City forward Paul George made it clear after the game that it came down to ‘bad officiating’. 

”We’re getting scratched, clawed, held, shoved, and there’s nothing for it,” George said. ”The officials just get to walk out and there’s nothing that penalizes them for not officiating the game the right way.”

George finished the game with 15 points and 6 rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Russell Westbrook also fouled out, but not before finishing with 32 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

The scoring wasn’t the only thing going for the Clippers. Patrick Beverly, standing at only 6’1”, finished the game with seven rebounds and six assists.  His biggest contribution was holding George way below his average and proving why people hate being guarded by him.  Not only is there a height difference between Beverly and George (6’9”) but he managed to block one of George’s pull up jumpers completely.

Oklahoma City head coach Billy Donovan admitted in their post-game interview that the Thunder were too sloppy on defense.

“Were fouling too much away from the ball,” Donovan said. He also stated in his postgame interview that another key for his team is defensive rebounding.

For the Clippers, their free throw shooting was a major key, as the team shot 31-of-46 from the charity stripe. Williams also had a career night, finishing the game with 40 points, which made him number two in the NBA for career points off the bench. 

When Los Angeles head coach Doc Rivers stated, “Lou Williams is a closer,” after the game, he wasn’t kidding around.  Williams just has one more player ahead of him, and that’s Dell Curry with 11,147 points off the bench.

With the win, the Clippers advanced to 7th in the Western Conference Playoffs standings, a half-game ahead of the San Antonio Spurs.

Posted by The Ball Out on Saturday, 9 March 2019

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