THUNDER 104
BLAZERS 111
5 Assists for Russell Westbrook, who also had 21 points and three rebounds

5-for-11 Three-point shooting by the Thunder on the night, including 2-for-2 shooting by Reggie Jackson

10 Rebounds for Serge Ibaka in addition to 13 points and three blocks

21-for-24 Free throw shooting by the Thunder, including 15-for-17 by Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant

26-4 Advantage for the Thunder in fast break points, where it shot 10-for-10 and held the Blazers to just one shot attempt

33 Points for Kevin Durant in addition to seven rebounds, two blocks and a steal

35-20 Edge in bench points for the Thunder, led by 12 for Reggie Jackson and 10 for Jeremy Lamb

50-38 Points in the paint advantage for the Thunder, where it held Portland to just 19-for-41 shooting

GAME IN REVIEW

mailbag@thunder-nba.com
Dec. 4th, 2013
RECAP:

PORTLAND – Some nights you tip your cap to the opponent, learn from the experience and move on. In a hostile road environment against one of the NBA’s hottest teams, the Thunder battled toe-to-toe, but missed out on just a few extra stops and buckets as it fell to the Portland Trail Blazers 111-104. After a tight road win over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night, the Thunder’s clash on Wednesday against Portland was another back-and-forth affair, featuring 14 lead changes and 15 ties throughout the night.

The Thunder used a dominating second quarter effort where it outscored the Blazers 32-23 to take a 12-point lead, but Portland immediately battled back with a 15-4 run in the third quarter to once again make it a game. The Thunder’s last lead came with 4:35 remaining when Kevin Durant hit two free throws, after which the Blazers got four straight buckets from LaMarcus Aldridge to make it 105-100 Blazers with 2:30 remaining.

The Thunder clawed back to within 105-104 after a Durant bucket and a Russell Westbrook driving layup, but a Nicolas Batum three-pointer with 29.9 seconds remaining put the game out of reach. Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club made sure the game came down to the closing seconds, but it was the switch in momentum in the third quarter that changed the game.

“They came out, they picked it up with their intensity and they were making some tough shots,” Brooks said. “We didn't come out with the defensive mindset that we had during that first half. We still made it a game down the stretch in the fourth quarter. We have to come out better.”

Aldridge led the way for the Blazers, scoring 38 points on 28 shot attempts, most from the inside edge of the three-point line. The Thunder contested many of the Blazers’ shots throughout the night, but in the end Portland managed 44.9 percent shooting and an 8-for-23 mark from the three-point line. While the Thunder managed to get back in transition, allowing the Blazers just four fast break points to the Thunder’s 26, it was the Blazers’ midrange game that ended up making the difference.

“They hit a lot of tough two's on us,” Durant said. “Shots we can live with, but they made enough of them to beat us. We couldn't get anything to fall, they played great defense and forced us some tough shots.”

“You have to give (Aldridge) credit because he made them,” Durant continued. “That's what our defense is kind of predicated on is making guys shoot tough twos and he definitely got them to fall tonight.”

The Thunder also held Portland to just 19-for-41 shooting in the paint as it outscored the Blazers 50-38 in that category, but Brooks’ club couldn’t get enough shots to fall late to fully complete its fourth quarter comeback. After a two-and-a-half week long winning streak, the Thunder will get a chance to bounce back on Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans. On both ends of the floor, the Thunder will look for better all-around execution in order to create easy looks for themselves and deny high percentage chances for its opponents.

“We won eight in a row, came and played one of the best teams in their building and played them down to the wire,” Brooks said. “I felt that we gave ourselves a chance to win… We’re in a good place. We have to come back and regroup tomorrow for Friday’s game.”

TURNING POINT:

The Thunder led 67-61 after a Kevin Durant jump shot with 7:03 remaining in the third quarter, but over the next three minutes the Blazers went on a 15-4 run that flipped the game’s momentum completely. The burst started with a Nicolas Batum three-pointer and then after a Thunder turnover, the Blazers got two offensive rebounds on the same possession, resulting in a Wes Matthews reverse layup.

Kevin Durant hit two free throws, but two Damian Lillard free throws and a Batum pull-up jumper gave the Blazers its first lead since midway through the second quarter. A missed shot by the Thunder was sandwiched between two turnovers as LaMarcus Aldridge hit a long two-point jumper, then followed it with a turnaround jumper and another 18-footer to give Portland a 76-71 edge with 2:46 remaining in the third period.

PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, FIRST HALF:

Great second effort by Thabo Sefolosha to stick with a loose ball even after the pass to him was tipped away. Nice helpside awareness by Steven Adams to block a shot to help a teammate in post defense. Adams then boxes out his man strongly and tips a defensive board to Russell Westbrook. Nick Collison hustles to tip out an offensive rebound and get it out to the perimeter to move the defense. Slick job by Perry Jones to be johnny-on-the-spot after a loose ball to get a tip-in. Beautiful passing by Kendrick Perkins and Russell Westbrook on a backdoor cut to get Serge Ibaka a wide open dunk.

PLAYS THE BOX SCORE DOESN'T SHOW, SECOND HALF:

Extra energy on offense from Westbrook and Ibaka to stick with a play and get an extra possession after forcing a loose ball. Sefolosha hustles back on defense and saves a sure dunk with his effort. Tough interior defense by Reggie Jackson to fight his man for the spot and then force a missed shot. Pretty bounce bass by Adams to find a back-cutting Jeremy Lamb for an easy lay-in. Strong rebound in traffic by Lamb on the defensive end after a good defensive possession forces a long miss. Jackson gets up high at the rim to block LaMarcus Aldridge’s shot. Westbrook huddles up Jackson and Lamb in the closing minutes to go over strategy.



“We have guys that hate losing. No matter who it is, we try to come out and play our best game. Some nights we have it and some nights we don't. Tonight is one of the nights we battled all the way to the end, we just couldn't close it out." – forward Kevin Durant

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