Anyone who thought that the Los Angeles Clippers couldn’t hang with the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series after a hard-fought series against the Golden State Warriors were proved wrong on Monday evening. Los Angeles came out firing on all cylinders in a 122-105 victory. 

In fact, it appeared that the home-standing Thunder weren’t ready for the onslought that was about to be thrown their way. The Clippers built a 14-point lead after one quarter, as Chris Paul put up 17 points by himself in the first stanza. Oklahoma City didn’t get closer than 13 points throughout the remainder of the game, falling down by 28 points at one point in the third quarter.

Overall, it was downright domination from the road team in this one.

The Clippers shot 55 percent from the field, 51.7 percent from three-point range and turned the ball over just eight times. If it wasn’t for a subpar day at the free-throw line (17-of-30), Los Angeles would have won by even more.

Paul led the way with 32 points and 10 assists. He shot a ridiculous 8-of-9 from behind the three-point line and 12-of-14 overall from the field. Blake Griffin added 23, while the Clippers bench tallied 38 points on nearly 50 percent from the field.

It was a completely different story for Kevin Durant and the Thunder. Durant and Russell Westbrook did combine for 54 points while shooting a ridiculous 55 percent from the field. It was, however, Westbrook’s overall struggles that might have made an early difference. He turned the ball over a total of six times and only dished out four assists. Any time a point guard tallies more turnovers than assists, his team is not going to stand much of a chane to win.

In reality, it appeared that the Clippers were simply the better team in this one. They will now look to make it two in a row in Oklahoma City come Wednesday evening. If so, we could be looking at a relatively short series here.

Photo: Mark D. Smith, USA Today