Aleksej Pokusevski scored a career-high 29 points to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 117-112 home win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday night in the final night of the NBA regular season.
The loss sent the Clippers to the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference. They’ll face Dallas in the first round of the playoffs.
Pokusevski got off to a hot start and then hit a 3-pointer to break a tie in the final minute and snap the Thunder’s nine-game losing streak.
Oklahoma City (22-50) finished with a franchise-record 78 points in the paint, the last Moses Brown’s dunk off Pokusevski’s miss to put the game away in the closing seconds.
The win was just the third in the final 29 games for Oklahoma City.
Even with at least six days remaining before the start of the postseason, the Clippers didn’t exactly go all-out to take the No. 3 seed, which is where Los Angeles would’ve finished with a win thanks to Portland’s win over Denver.
Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Nicolas Batum, Marcus Morris and Rajon Rondo all sat out, while center Ivica Zubac played just six seconds before coming out of the game.
The Clippers (47-25) struggled out of the gate, going just 3 of 14 from the floor to start the game as the Thunder built a lead that grew to 13 just past the midpoint of the first quarter.
The Clippers took the lead in the second and led by as many as seven in the second half before the Thunder came back in the fourth quarter.
Pokusevski hit his first six shots and finished 10 of 19 from the floor, hitting six 3-pointers. The rookie played a season-high 40 minutes.
Pokusevski wasn’t the only young Thunder player with a big game as Oklahoma City sat out several regulars including Darius Bazley, Svi Mykhailiuk, and Kenrich Williams.
Another rookie, Josh Hall, scored a career-high 25 points with 10 rebounds. Hall, who played more than 42 minutes, hadn’t scored more than 10 points or pulled down more than seven rebounds before Sunday’s game.
Moses Brown had a career-high 24 points on 12-of-19 shooting while adding 18 rebounds.
Eight players scored in double figures for the Clippers, led by Terance Mann’s 19 points.
–Field Level Media