A new NBA rivalry is brewing between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers have emerged as one of the teams that could challenge the Thunder for the Western Conference title, and they were going for the season sweep of OKC on Sunday.
It looked like the Thunder were going to run away with it, up by as many as 19 in the third quarter, but the Clippers battled back to take the lead before they eventually ran out of gas. Oklahoma City won the game 108-104, but before all was said and done, each team got a few shots in, none more literal than the hit Serge Ibaka had on Blake Griffin.
With about two minutes left in the game, Matt Barnes nailed a corner three-pointer. Before it went in, Griffin was able to get inside rebounding position on both Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. There were a few elbows traded back and forth before Ibaka, clearly frustrated by Griffin, went for the cheap shot to Griffin’s special area.
I bet Griffin is going to use his special time-travelling Kia to tell himself to put a little extra padding in his shorts before the game against the Thunder.
Ibaka was assessed a Flagrant 1 foul, and the Clippers got two shots and the ball back, allowing them to complete a very rare seven-point possession and take the lead. That was a big boost for L.A., but since it was only a Flagrant 1, Ibaka was allowed to stay in the game.
I am not sure what the refs were looking at, but that punch to the groin looks like some pretty “malicious intent” to me. Ibaka had some very big plays down the stretch for the Thunder. No telling what the outcome of the game would have been if he had been given a Flagrant 2 and ejected.
Even though Ibaka was allowed to stay in that game, I have a feeling he’ll be missing at least one later on. There is really no excuse he can come up with to say he did not intentionally try to punch Griffin’s junk. I would expect a fine and/or a suspension coming down from the NBA in the next day or two.
Right now the Thunder and Clippers are sitting at the two and three seeds respectively. If they meet in the second round of the playoffs, get ready for some fireworks. Hopefully everyone makes sure their jock straps are in working order.