The Oklahoma City Thunder lost to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night in the Clippers home opener. The Thunder eliminated the Clippers last season in the second round of the playoffs in the midst of the Donald Sterling scandal. This game was more than a home opener for the Clippers as they went on to winning the game in the final seconds with a score of 93-90. OKC suffered from more than just a loss though. With Kevin Durant being on the sideline for six to eight weeks, his partner in the Thunder’s dynamic duo, Russell Westbrook, will be joining him on the sidelines, also, for four to six weeks due to his own injury. With the duo on the sidelines together, the Oklahoma City Thunder could possibly be in trouble.
Russell Westbrook collided with Thunder center, Kendrick Perkins as they both went up for a rebound in a crowd of other players. As he came down, he noticed a displacement in his hand and struggled to make a fist after hitting Perkins’ elbow. Westbrook exited the game with 6:35 left in the second quarter and did not return until the third quarter with a bag of ice wrapped around his right hand as he sat on the bench. He eventually left the game altogether by the end of the third quarter. As he walked towards the tunnel to head to the locker room, he had to be restrained after a small verbal confrontation with a Clippers’ fan. Westbrook finished with just playing nine minutes, during which, he scored two points and had nine assists. After having x-rays done at the Staples Center and further evaluations the next morning, Westbrook will officially miss four to six weeks due to a small fracture in the metacarpal of his right hand.
Kevin Durant is also due to miss a few more weeks after he broke his right foot just a couple weeks ago. In the preseason, the Oklahoma City Thunder struggled and finished to just win two out of the seven preseason games without KD for the majority of it. They are currently 0-2 in the regular season after losing to the Portland Trailblazers 106-89 in Portland. OKC is scheduled to play the Denver Nuggets (1-0) on Saturday night for their own season home opener in Oklahoma City. After being on the road the first two games of the regular season and then falling short in the final seconds against the Clippers, the comfort of their home crowd could bring their spirits up and possibly bring a win for their first home game of the year.
Despite missing their two key players, Oklahoma City may not completely be in trouble. After Westbrook’s injury, Perry Jones had a career-high game. He scored 32 points and made nine out of 11 free throws in his 42 minutes. Serge Ibaka played 33 minutes, scored 17 points and had nine rebounds. He missed a three-point shot at the buzzer that could have put the game into overtime. After Kevin Durant’s injury, Russell Westbrook knew he had to step up and lead the Thunder, as KD did last season when Westbrook was out on injury. Yet after Westbrook’s unanticipated broken hand that will put him on the sideline right with KD, that will have to leave the rest of the team to step up. Could Perkins and Ibaka handle the pressure to keep the Oklahoma City Thunder from being in trouble so early the season? They will have to find a rhythm as they wait for the return of their dynamic duo.
Commentary By Tricia Manalansan
Photo Courtesy Keith Allison – Creativecommons License