OKLAHOMA CITY – Although they were not whole, the Los Angeles Clippers still competed with what they had. And what they had was not enough to keep up with an Oklahoma City Thunder team starving for a win.
The Thunder broke a four-game losing streak with a 120-111 victory before 18,203 fans Friday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena that sent the Clippers to their fourth consecutive defeat.
The Clippers figured to be outgunned with Patrick Beverley (sore right knee) back in Los Angeles and with Danilo Gallinari (strained left glute) and Milos Teodosic (plantar fascia injury to left foot) on the injured list.
"I loved it," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "I hate losing, don't get me wrong. When you have guys out like that and they have their key guys on the floor, I'll take that all night.
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"I loved our effort. I loved our energy. I loved our spirit. I loved everything we did tonight except for we didn't win the game."
Of the Thunder big three of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, it was George who had the most ammunition.
George, the All-Star acquired from Indiana in the offseason, scored 42 points, making 13 of 22 shots. He also had nine rebounds, seven assists and three steals as the Thunder broke away from a 105-105 tie in the final minutes.
Westbrook had 22 points and eight assists.
Lou Williams tried to counter that for the Clippers, scoring 35 points off the bench. It was the most points by a Clipper and the most by a player off the bench in the NBA this season.
"Lou was awesome," said Blake Griffin, who had 17 points on five-for-19 shooting.
The Clippers were in need of some production from every part of their roster considering their circumstances.
They got some from Austin Rivers, who had 17 points while playing with a mild sprained left ankle.
They got some from rookies Sindarius Thornwell and Jawun Evans.
Thornwell had 10 points in his first start of the season at guard and he was solid on defense. Evans had only three points, but he too was solid on defense.
"Our two rookies tonight," Doc Rivers said, "I was very proud of them."
The Clippers showed grit the entire game, never giving up when they got down.
They fought back from a 14-point deficit in the first quarter to take a 31-30 lead at the end of quarter after Williams hit a running, double-pump 47-foot three-pointer as time expired. Williams pumped his fist after the ball settled into the net.
They fought back from 20 down in the third quarter and pulled to within eight entering the fourth.
They fought back from 12 points in the fourth and tied the score at 105-105 on back-to-back three-pointers by Thornwell and Rivers.
But the Clippers just didn't have enough left for a Thunder team that itself was fighting to get its first win against Western Conference foes after losing its first six games.
"Overall, I just loved our fight," Doc Rivers said. "I don't know how many times we got down and we just kept coming back ... I just loved how we competed. I'll take that every night."