May 9, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) blocks a shot by Los Angeles Clippers guard Darren Collison (2) during the second half of game three of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma City Thunder: ‘Other’ Guys Step Up In Game 3

Through the first nine games of the NBA playoffs, the Oklahoma City Thunder were living and dying behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

In Game 3 of their Western Conference Semifinal series against the Los Angeles Clippers Friday night, the terrific twosome finally got some help.

The Thunder’s role players stepped up in a big way Friday night, helping the Thunder to a 118-112 win and a 2-1 series lead. It was Oklahoma City’s second straight win in the series following an embarrassing 122-105 loss at home in Game 1.

That’s not to say Durant and Westbrook weren’t good. Durant finished with a game-high 36 points on 14-for-24 shooting and Westbrook was 7-for-14 from the floor on his way to 23 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds while turning the ball over just twice.

Serge Ibaka continued his hyper-efficient play, scoring 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting despite being limited to 29 minutes because of foul trouble. In the playoffs, Ibaka is shooting 63.8 percent from the floor while averaging 13.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots a game.

Caron Butler and Reggie Jackson, who have been inconsistent—at best—in the playoffs, finally put strong games together for Oklahoma City. Jackson had 14 points in 30 minutes, going 5-for-8 from the floor, while Butler also had 14 points in 22 minutes.

Steven Adams, meanwhile, had nine rebounds in just 18 minutes, four on the offensive glass, as the Thunder abused the Clippers on the glass, 44-33.

The Thunder bench outscored the Clippers reserves 34-28—coincidentally (or not) the same margin as the final score. But outside of Jamal Crawford’s inefficient 20 points (6-for-18 from the floor, 1-for-5 from long range), the L.A. bench was just 3-for-10 from the floor, with Glen Davis, Jared Dudley, Danny Granger and Darren Collison combining for eight points and three rebounds.

Most importantly of all, perhaps, is that the Thunder cracked the Clippers’ home-court mystique. The Clips were 35-0 at the Staples Center this season when leading after three quarters, but Oklahoma City outscored L.A. 32-22 over the final 12 minutes to become the first team this year to achieve a fourth-quarter comeback in the building.

Part of that success has to be attributed to the work of the Thunder’s role players. If Oklahoma City is going to threaten for a title, they will have to continue to be more than just stagnant props for the thrill show that is Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Tags: Caron Butler Oklahoma City Thunder Reggie Jackson Steven Adams

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