Preview: Clippers at Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder finally left the ranks of the winless with a 117-110 home win over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday and intend to continue an upward trajectory. The Thunder will try to make it back-to-back victories when they host the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.
Oklahoma City’s uneven start had a lot to do with Russell Westbrook missing the first two games and most of training camp following knee surgery, and Sunday’s performance looked more like the Thunder team the front office envisioned. “We’re going to keep building off that win and we’re going to keep getting better,” point guard Dennis Schroder, who shared the court at times with Westbrook and Paul George on Sunday as part of a package designed to let Westbrook work off the ball, told reporters. The Clippers, who breezed to a 108-92 home win over the Westbrook-less Thunder on Oct. 19, come in hot after averaging 134.5 points in back-to-back wins. “Unselfishness,” Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers told reporters. “They don’t care. No one’s hunting points, you know, they’re hunting the open guy and that’s a good way to play; it’s the only way we can play, it’s the only way we’ll be good.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FS Prime Ticket (Los Angeles), FS Oklahoma
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (4-2): Los Angeles’ offensive surge over the last two games has a lot to do with the improved play of shooting guard Avery Bradley, who averaged 4.3 points on 25.8 percent shooting in the first four games before combining for 29 points on 12-of-22 in the last two contests. “I’m starting to pick my spots and try to find out how to play off Tobias (Harris), (Danilo Galliniari), Pat (Beverley); we’re trying to learn how to play with each other,” Bradley told the Los Angeles Times. “We knew it would take time but it’s good it’s flowing a little better now.” Nine players scored in double figures in Sunday’s 136-104 win over the Washington Wizards, led by Harris’ 22 points.
ABOUT THE THUNDER (1-4): Schroder is one of a few newcomers to Oklahoma City this season and is joined by power forward Nerlens Noel, who is trying to resurrect his career after a pair of down seasons with Philadelphia and Dallas. Noel, 24, got the start on Sunday in place of injured center Steven Adams (calf) and responded with 20 points, 15 rebounds and four steals in 26 minutes. “It’s just being a professional, ready for whatever is thrown at me in this position,” Noel told reporters. “It’s being able to be ready no matter what.”
1. Adams, who is averaging 14 points and 12.3 rebounds, is day-to-day.
2. Los Angeles PF Luc Mbah a Moute (knee) sat out the last two games and is questionable for Tuesday.
3. Oklahoma City won both meetings at home last season by an average of 8.5 points.