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SPORTS: Oklahoma City Thunder

Ibaka's Ejection Overshadows Thunder's Loss To Clippers

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High-flying dunks, pushing, shoving, clinched fists, expletive-laden tweets, what else could you ask for?

It was a wild Wednesday night in Los Angeles, where the Clippers came from behind to top the Oklahoma City Thunder 111-103 in a game that will certainly not sit well with Thunder fans.

Things heated up fast, but OKC was frigid in the opening minutes.

Los Angeles jumped out to an 8-0 start before Serge Ibaka's dunk got Oklahoma City on the board at the 8:04 mark of the first. The Thunder outscored the Clippers 33-17 the rest of the quarter to take a 33-25 lead after one.

The gap remained the same throughout the second quarter, but things got crazy late in the half. With the Thunder leading 59-53 with just six seconds left in the half, the Thunder's fortunes took a turn for the worse.

After Chris Paul missed a floater, Blake Griffin got the offensive rebound and immediately went back up with it, only to have Ibaka block it back in his face. The block attempt appeared to be clean, but the officials signaled a foul on Ibaka. Meanwhile, Griffin held Ibaka's arm in a vicegrip and refused to let go, causing Ibaka to push Griffin away. Then out of nowhere, well-known clown Matt Barnes injected himself into the incident, coming out of nowhere to push Ibaka, only to back up behind his teammates like a coward.

As a result of Barnes' antics, Ibaka balled and cocked his fist back, but never swung. Eventually the players were separated and the game continued, but not before the officials ejected both Ibaka and Barnes.

For the Clippers, it was a good exchange. Barnes was 0-5 shooting in the first half, with no points, while Ibaka shot 6-6 for 13 points.

The controversial ejection left the already-shorthanded Thunder with even fewer options in the second half. Starting center Kendrick Perkins was already absent as he attended to family matters following the death of his grandfather. Coach Scott Brooks elected to start the seldom-used Ryan Gomes in the second half while keeping players like Nick Collison and Perry Jones in their usual roles.

Whether it was the lineup shifting or the loss of Ibaka, Oklahoma City came out flat in the third quarter. The Thunder was outscored 30-16 in the period as Brooks struggled to find a lineup that could put the ball in the basket. Nine of OKC's 16 points in the period came from Durant and the Thunder trailed 81-78 entering the game's final period.

The Clipper lead ballooned to 12 on a Blake Griffin dunk with 7:05 to play, but the Thunder made one last push.

Durant buried a 3-ball to bring OKC back within nine at the 6:16 mark, starting a 12-4 Thunder run to come within 100-96 with just 3:25 left. But a crucial sequence of mistakes cost Oklahoma City a chance to complete the comeback.

Trailing 102-96, Westbrook missed both free throw attempts. Then on the Thunder's ensuing possession, Reggie Jackson turned the ball over in the open floor, leading directly to a Jamal Crawford layup that gave the Clippers an eight-point lead it wouldn't relinquish.

The Clippers outscored OKC 58-41 in the second half as the Thunder clearly missed Ibaka's presence on both ends of the court. The missing Perkins took to Twitter to express his displeasure with the referee's decision.

"That's was terrible. Serge did nothing. That was wrong," Perkins tweeted.

Perk followed that with a resounding "SMH" tweet. 

The ejected Barnes must have showered fast, because not long after he also took to Twitter to whine about how much money it costs him to stand up for his teammates. The R-rated tweet cannot be repeated here, but if you Google it, you'll find it.

Durant led the way for OKC with 33 points, 10 assists and six rebounds, while Westbrook added 19 points and 10 dimes. Despite not playing in the second half, Ibaka was OKC's third-leading scorer with 13. Jackson added nine while Thabo Sefolosha added seven points and six steals. Rookie center Steven Adams scored seven and grabbed four rebounds in 21 minutes.

Griffin led the Clips with 22 points, 12 boards and seven assists. Crawford came off the bench and lit the Thunder up, scoring 20 points on 7-13 shooting, including 3-7 from deep.

The Clippers (5-2) outrebounded the Thunder (6-3) 50-35, while both teams committed 22 turnovers and had 52 points in the paint.

The two teams won't have to wait long for a rematch.  Los Angeles visits Oklahoma City next Wednesday. 

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