LOS ANGELES – The Oklahoma City Thunder not only got quality production from their star players in their 118-112 win in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal series against the L.A. Clippers, but several lower profile players played key roles in the win.
Serge Ibaka scored 20 points and hit 9 of 10 from the field, while both Caron Butler and Reggie Jackson came off the bench to contribute 14 points apiece.
OKC’s bench and role player starters outplayed the Clippers version, even if LA stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul did play well.
Ibaka nailed jumpers time after time to keep OKC in front in the third quarter, while Butler drained three fourth quarter 3-pointers to answer Clipper baskets.
Jackson was steady yet aggressive at the point guard spot.
Even backup center Steven Adams made a big contribution with 9 rebounds, as OKC out rebounded the Clippers for the 3rd straight game.
Next up is a critical Game 4, especially for the Clippers, who face a near must-win situation at home.
A loss for L.A. means they must return to OKC for Game 5 on Tuesday, trailing in the series 3 games to 1.
The Thunder realize they will get LA’s best effort on Sunday in Game 4, and they’re not satisfied.
At practice Saturday morning in Beverly Hills, the Thunder talked about needing to play better defense and continuing to share the ball as they did in Game 3, in which they had 26 assists.
The Thunder have only played one previous Game 4 with a 2-1 series lead and that was also in Los Angeles, when the Thunder beat the Lakers in 2012 and went on to win the series.
Tipoff for Game 4 is 2:30 p.m. central time at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday.