THUNDER AT CLIPPERS, 10:30 P.M. ET

TV:  ESPN 

  • Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said his players should have no problem bouncing back for Game 6 of their Western Conference semifinal tonight against the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center. The Clippers lost a heart-breaker in Game 5 on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City to give the Thunder a 3-2 series lead in the best-of-7 format. L.A. took a seven-point lead with 49 seconds remaining but couldn’t hold off the Thunder, giving up eight unanswered points in the last 43 seconds. “I think we are really ready to go,” Rivers said about two hours before tip-off. Rivers also insisted point guard Chris Paul shouldn’t have any problems regrouping after he committed two turnovers in the final 13 seconds and also fouled Russell Westbrook on a 3-point try that led to three free throws with six seconds left, giving Oklahoma City its final one-point lead. “He’s a gamer, he’ll be ready,” Rivers said of Paul.
  • There was some speculation Clippers backup forward Hedo Turkoglu might be available for Game 5 after sustaining a fracture in his lower back in the first-round series against the Warriors, but the 6-10 veteran didn’t play in the last game and it’s looking more unlikely he’ll appear in this series. He remains the only injured player on either team. The Clippers have been going primarily with Danny Granger as the back-up to Matt Barnes at small forward, with Jared Dudley, the opening-day starter at the position, getting the few remaining minutes. Barnes played a series-high 43 minutes in Game 5, scoring 16 points with the help of 4-for-5 shooting from 3-point range. 
  • Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook continues to put up numbers this postseason that have rarely been seen before. In fact, the only player in NBA history to average at least 27 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in a postseason is Oscar Robertson. Westbrook has struggled with his shooting against the Clippers at Staples Center during his career, but the Southern California native is 17-for-36 in the two playoff games inside the arena this series with 21 assists compared to six turnovers. 
  • The Thunder will try to continue their trend of closing out quarters with a big push. They outscored the Clippers 30-13 in the final two minutes of all four quarters of Game 5.  Oklahoma City will surely look for a better start to the game, however. The Thunder shot 5-for-17 in the opening 12 minutes Tuesday and fell behind by 15 points before cutting the deficit to nine heading into the second. They were able to cut the Clippers’ lead to single digits thanks to 15 successful free throws.

Dan Arritt

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