Matt Barnes, Serge Ibaka scuffle mars Clippers’ win over Thunder
By BETH HARRIS AP Sports Writer November 14, 2013 9:48AM
Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes, left and Clippers forward Blake Griffin, second from left, tangle with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, second from right, of Congo, and Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, right, in the first half of their NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, in Los Angeles. Ibaka and Barnes were ejected from the game after the scuffle. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
LOS ANGELES — The Clippers are searching for defensive intensity under new coach Doc Rivers. They found it for the final 24 minutes against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Blake Griffin had 22 points and 12 rebounds after being involved in a first-half scuffle that resulted in two ejections, sparking Los Angeles to a 111-103 victory Wednesday night.
“You would have to say it woke us up a little bit,” J.J. Redick said. “It hurt both teams.”
Serge Ibaka of the Thunder and Matt Barnes of the Clippers were ejected, and Griffin received a technical foul for his part in the altercation with 6 seconds left in the second quarter.
“Just a little extra after the play,” Griffin said.
Kevin Durant had 33 points, making 15 of 17 free throws, and 10 assists to lead the Thunder, who had won four straight. Russell Westbrook added 19 points and 10 assists.
“They just beat us,” Durant said. “We’ve got to finish the game out. No excuses, no matter who’s out there. Of course we’d rather have Serge out there, but it didn’t happen like that. We still had a chance to win the game.”
Jamal Crawford scored 20 points off the bench for the Clippers, who had six players in double figures while winning their third in a row. DeAndre Jordan and Redick scored 15 each, and Chris Paul had 14 points and 16 assists.
The fireworks began when Griffin was trying to put the ball up and his arms and Ibaka’s became entangled. Barnes shoved Ibaka hard in the chest. Griffin kept trying to get at Ibaka as players from both teams formed a scrum.
“I didn’t think it was going to turn into that,” Griffin said. “After I turned around and heard the oohs and aahs and knew we were into something.”
Ibaka cocked his right fist, but didn’t take a swing as Barnes smiled at him. As he left the court, Barnes reached over a barrier, grabbed his young son and held his hand as he walked off. Later, Barnes left the locker room before the media was allowed in.
“I didn’t see the video after that, so I will try to make sure I watch it,” Ibaka said. “I was disappointed, but I will learn from my mistake. I don’t want to think about it no more.”
Durant made the free throw on Griffin’s technical and Westbrook hit a 3-pointer to give the Thunder a 62-53 lead at the break.
“I have no complaints about what happened,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We didn’t lose the game because of that incident, trust me. The bottom line is they outplayed us.”
The exchange certainly riled up the Clippers.
Down by 10 early in the third, they rallied with a 14-2 spurt to go up 74-71, their first lead since the opening quarter. Redick had a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer, Paul had two free throws and a basket and Griffin capped it with five straight points.
He stole the ball and dribbled down the court, driving in for a layup. After a timeout, Durant lost the ball and Griffin scored again while getting fouled. He made the free throw.
The Thunder were outscored 30-16 in the third, when they shot 29 percent and got outrebounded 13-7.
“What I loved about the third quarter, every single guy came in and did something,” Rivers said.
During the Clippers’ run, Ryan Gomes, Nick Collison and Thabo Sefolosha all picked up their fourth fouls. Gomes started the second half in place of Ibaka.
Los Angeles shot 7 of 8 on free throws late in the period to take an 83-78 lead into the fourth.
The Clippers forced turnovers and contested shots in the fourth when they weren’t scoring. They opened with an 8-0 run to take a 91-78 lead on the strength of their bench shooting.
The Thunder couldn’t get a sustained run together while turning the ball over against a team they swept in three games last season.
After his ejection, Barnes used a derogatory term in a profane tweet that began “I love my teammates like family,” but went on to seemingly suggest he was tired of backing them up because his actions “cost me money.”
“I think he was very emotional,” Rivers said, adding that he wasn’t a fan of the derogatory term that Barnes used.
Griffin, Paul and Redick all described Barnes as a good teammate.
“I don’t know what he meant by it, but I know what his intent is for his teammates,” Redick said.
Paul said he hadn’t seen the tweet.
“I’ll have to read that and analyze it myself,” he said. “We won, though.”
Griffin also said he hadn’t seen Barnes’ tweet, adding, “He does a great job of sticking up for us. We appreciate what Matt does for us.”
Jared Dudley, who had 10 points, said he would have done the same thing for Barnes.
“He’s a really tough guy and sometimes he wants that (from) everybody,” Dudley said. “It goes both ways. We’ve got to be a little bit tougher and he’s got to be a little bit smarter.”
Ibaka had 13 points on perfect shooting before his ejection. He hit all six shots from the field and was 1 of 1 from the line. Barnes was scoreless in just under 8 minutes.
NOTES: Paul became the first player in Clippers history to have at least 10 points and 10 assists in each of the first nine games of a season. The last player to do it was Magic Johnson of the Lakers in the first 11 games of the 1990-91 season. ... The Thunder play on back-to-back nights for the first time this season when they visit Golden State on Thursday. ... Thunder C Kendrick Perkins wasn’t with the team after his grandfather died Monday. He was raised by his grandparents in Beaumont, Texas. Rivers, who coached Perkins in Boston, talked to him Tuesday.