Sunday, February 23, 2014
Top things to know: Clippers at Thunder
By Justin Page
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Los Angeles Clippers visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday (ABC, 1 p.m. ET). Here are the top things you need to know.
Blake Griffin's improved jump shot is helping him put together the best offensive season of his career.
Blake Griffin has posted a higher scoring average than Kevin Durant this month, averaging 33.9 PPG in February to Durant’s 32.5 (only Kevin Love is averaging more than Griffin this month).
In fact, his scoring average has improved each month this season, from 21.5 PPG in October/November. Griffin has scored nine straight 25-point games, the longest such streak of his career.
Overshadowed by Durant and LeBron James, Griffin is quietly having an MVP-caliber season and has become more than just a dunker. One of the primary reasons is his improved jump shot.
Durant is averaging 30.5 points, 9.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds in two games against the Clippers this season. He’s averaging 32.6 points over his last five games against the Clippers.
• Westbrook is averaging 15.5 points on 38.7 percent shooting against the Clippers this season.
• Serge Ibaka is averaging 15.0 points on 14-of-16 shooting against the Clippers this season. But he’s totaled only 3.5 rebounds in those games, down from his season average of 8.7.
• Griffin is averaging 24.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists against the Thunder this season.
• Chris Paul is averaging 15.5 points and 14.0 assists against OKC this season.
Both teams are in the top 11 in points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, but the Thunder have been the much better rebounding team.
• Durant has scored 25 points in 21 straight games, the second-longest streak of his career (29 straight in 2009-10).
• DeAndre Jordan is posting career highs in points (9.9), rebounds (14.0) and blocks (2.4) this season. He’s recorded double-digit rebounds in 33 of his past 34 games.
• Jamal Crawford is averaging 23.6 points over his last 16 games, nearly a seven-point increase over his scoring average through the first 40 games of the season.
Point guard battle
The Thunder welcomed Russell Westbrook back to the lineup on Thursday. They’re 22-8 (.733) without him and 21-5 with him (.808) this season. The Clippers, on the other hand, have a lower win percentage with Chris Paul in the lineup (.632) than without him (.684).
Paul is 10-7 in his career against Westbrook, and he’s gotten the better of him statistically, averaging more points and assists and fewer turnovers in head-to-head meetings.
At 43-13, OKC has a league-best .768 win percentage. The only season the franchise posted a better mark came in 1995-96, when the Seattle SuperSonics had a .780 win percentage.
• The Thunder posted a .732 win percentage last season. Should they increase their win percentage again this season, it would be the sixth consecutive season they have done so. The Timberwolves hold the NBA record for most consecutive seasons with a win percentage increase (six seasons spanning 1991-92 through 1997-98, but their highest during that span was .549).