Regular Season Recap: Blazers vs Thunder

BLAZERS 103

THUNDER 93
0 Missed field goals by Serge Ibaka; he was 4-for-4 and finished with 8 points.

2 Days between games for the Thunder.

4 Free-throw attempts by Kevin Durant.

7 Lead changes in the game; also the Thunder’s biggest lead of the game.

9 Ties in the game.

10 Turnovers by the Thunder, a season low.

14 Points by the Thunder bench.

24 Fast-break points for the Thunder.

25 Thunder’s 3-point shooting percentage.

42 Thunder’s points in the paint.

44.7 Blazers’ field goal shooting percentage; Portland is the first team to defeat the Thunder when held below 45 percent shooting.

The Thunder does not play another game until Friday, when it plays host to the Houston Rockets in the first game of a back-to-back-to-back. Game time is 7 p.m. in Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Immediately after the game, both the Thunder and the Rockets head to Houston for a game Saturday. The Thunder concludes the three-games-in-three-days grind with a Sunday night match-up against the San Antonio Spurs in Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“We just have to worry about the first game, move to the second and finish up with the third,” Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks. “We have a good team. Players are going to have to step up and fill the minutes when they get them and we expect that to happen.”

GAME IN REVIEW

RECAP:
It was every bit the battle Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks expected from the Portland Trail Blazers: 48 minutes of intense basketball, aggressive rebounding and timely shots.

The Thunder and its Northwest Division rival went toe-to-toe in a physical match-up Tuesday night that featured nine ties and seven lead changes, but it was Portland that came away with a 103-93 victory before 18,203 in Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“Well as you can see, Portland is a very good team. They played very well tonight,” Brooks said afterwards. “It just tells us one thing—that we have to get better. We have to keep improving, but our guys understand that. They understand that this is not the final product that you will see. We just have to keep getting better. Portland’s good. They did a lot of good things. They have good players and they made some shots down the stretch.”

The Thunder trailed 78-74 heading into the final 12 minutes and had momentum and the sold-out crowd on its side. But the Blazers slowly started to pull away with timely threes, fortunate bounces of the ball and an off-shooting night by the Thunder.

The Thunder shot just 43.4 percent from the field, 25 percent from the 3-point line and got to the free-throw line only 21 times compared to 36 for the Blazers.

“This was a tough game for us. We have to stay positive,” said Thunder forward Kevin Durant. “It was a tough game for me. I just couldn’t make the shots. Some of them look great coming out of my hand but you know, I’m a scorer so I can’t get down on one game. I can’t let it snowball to the next. So, I have to get back to work tomorrow and the game to get ready for our next game.”

PLAYS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, FIRST HALF:
Kevin Durant racing down court to break up a Blazers fast break by deflecting a Raymond Felton pass out of bounds. … Kendrick Perkins outworking Marcus Camby for a rebound off a foul shot and converting a jump hook. … Nick Collison stepping in front of Felton to free Russell Westbrook for an open jumper and 8-7 lead. … Westbrook driving deep in the lane, bringing defenders to him, and kicking out to Durant for a jumper. … Perkins keeping an offensive rebound alive with a tip that is secured by Collison, who pump-fakes his defender for an easy bucket. … Nazr Mohammed setting on screen on Gerald Wallace to free Durant for a drive. … Collison keeping an offensive possession alive with a tip-out off a miss, and then finishing the possession with a strong drive and bucket. … Collison and Mohammed crashing the offensive glass hard to keep possession that ends with a Collison bucket. … Mohammed using a pump-fake to get Kurt Thomas to jump, freeing the Thunder big man for a nice drive to the basket. … Harden, lined up with Jamal Crawford on a jump ball, shows some veteran savvy, holding his position with one hand and securing the ball with the other. … Durant with a behind-the-back dribble and step back, freeing himself for an open jumper and 51-47 lead.

PLAYFS THE BOXSCORE WON’T SHOW, SECOND HALF:
Great ball movement from Harden to Durant to Westbrook to Serge Ibaka inside for a runner in the lane. … With chants of “DE-FENSE … DE-FENSE” in full roar, Durant picks up a Blazers turnover and the Thunder if off and running on a break that ends with a Harden layup. … Durant hustling back on defense to block the layin attempt of Wesley Matthews. … With Portland on an 8-1 run and on another fast break, Durant breaks up an alley-oop to Aldridge at the rim. Thunder time out. … Collison strips the ball from Aldridge, but third-quarter expires before Lazar Hayward can attempt a heave. … With the Thunder down 89-81 and needing a break, Harden keeps a defensive rebound alive and taps it to a teammate. … Westbrook shows the hands of a NFL receiver in a one-handed outlet pass from Harden and finishing with a slam to bring the crowd to its feet and force a Portland time out. … Perkins defining the words ‘support defense’ by sliding over to assist Durant and block the shot of Wallace at the rim.

TIP-INS:
With Thabo Sefolosha still experiencing “flu-like symptoms,” James Harden made his first start of the season. … Daequan Cook, who missed the game Monday in Dallas, dressed and checked into the game with 4:28 remaining in the first half. Cook had a new look, too, sporting some stylish specks that he would take on and off throughout the game.. …. WWE broadcaster Jim “J.R.” Ross joined Thunder broadcasters Brian Davis and Grant Long for an in-game chat during the second quarter. No ladder or folding chair was necessary.

LAST WORD:
"Sometimes you need a tough loss to keep challenging yourself to get better. One of the things I really like about this team is we bounce back. ... Tomorrow we're going to have off. It's a good time to regroup and figure out ways how we could have done better our last two games. Our guys have great respect for the practice floor and for the film room. ... When you have a tough loss, it's no different than when you have a big win. You get back to work." -- Brooks.