Offense Nowhere To Be Found In Loss To Thunder

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- The Trail Blazers knew it wouldn't be easy replacing Rodney Hood, who recently suffered a season-ending Achilles injury, but they might not have figured it would be this hard.

The Blazers shot just 36 percent from the field, a low for the season, 27 percent from three and shot half as many free throws on the way to a 108-96 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in front of a sellout crowd of 19,393 Sunday night at the Moda Center.

The Trail Blazers are now 9-15 overall and 4-6 at home and 2-1 versus Oklahoma City this season with one game remaining in the series.

While nothing that happened Sunday night can be directly attributed to Hood's absence, the fact that he was shooting 50 percent from the field and 49 percent from three, it's hard to image he couldn't half helped.

And they sure could have used more accurate shooting Sunday night. The issues were apparent early, with Damian Lillard missing his first seven shots and the team as a whole shooting 30 percent from the field in the first quarter. The Thunder missing all four of their three-point attempts helped Portland's cause, but Oklahoma City was awarded 10 free throws to just one for the Trail Blazers in the first quarter.

But thanks to the Thunder only shooting 32 percent from the field, the Blazers were able to go into the second quarter trailing by one.

However, the Thunder would find their shot in the second while the Blazers were still trying to find their way. Oklahoma City went on a 10-2 run early in the third quarter to take a 33-27 lead. Then Dennis Schroder scored eight straight to spark a 26-5 run that would give the Thunder their largest lead of the night at 48-31 with 4:43 to play in the first half.

Portland did managed to answer back, going on a 16-2 run, capped by a Carmelo Anthony three in transition, to cut Oklahoma City's lead to 51-47 late in the second quarter, though the visitors would score the last four points of the half to take a 55-47 lead into the intermission.

"I thought at the end of the second quarter, we gained some momentum," said Stotts. "Hassan had three blocks pretty close together that triggered some transition. I thought that gave us a little momentum at the offensive end and got us back in the game."

And for a brief moment in the third, it seemed as though the Blazers might right the ship just enough to get the win. After the Thunder pushed their advantage back to 11 early in the second half, the Blazers went on a 14-3 run to tie the game the game at 63-63 on Anthony 15-footer with 6:08 to play in the quarter. Less than a minute later, Portland took their first lead since early in the first quarter after three Lillard free throws moved the score to 67-66.

Both teams would spend the better part of the rest of the quarter trading the lead, though it would be the Thunder that would take a four-point advantage into the fourth.

Neither team scored in there first three minutes of the fourth, giving the impression that the first side to put together a few quality offensive possessions in a row could run away with the game. And unfortunately for most in attendance, that honor went to the Thunder.

After a Hassan Whiteside layup with 5:14 two play cut the Thunder lead to 90-86, Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander combined for a 10-2 run to push the advantage to 11 with just over three minutes to play. After a McCollum layup briefly got the lead back down to single digits, Gilgeous-ALexander and Steven Adams combined to go 5-of-5 from there free throw line over the next 50 seconds to put the game out of reach.

"I just thought our urgency wasn't where it needed to be," said Lillard. "You come out with an opportunity to get some momentum going into another home game with another opportunity to win against a team that we just played a few games ago and blew them away, played a great game. Then the ball's not going in so we don't lock in and stay sharp on the defensive end. We just allowed them to do pretty much what they wanted."

With the game decided, Stotts called off his regular rotation with roughly a minute and a half to play, though with three players out, Portland "waving the white flag" doesn't look all that much different from simply playing their bench unit.

TOP PERFORMERS

Damian Lillard went 8-of-24 from the field and 2-of-12 from, three for 26 points to go with seven assists and three rebounds in 38 minutes.

CJ McCollum also made eight of his attempts, finishing with 20 points to go with five rebounds, two steals and two assists in 37 minutes. Hassan Whiteside finished with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds. They were the only three Portland players to finish the game in double figures.

Five Thunder players surpassed the double-digit mark led by both Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder, both of whom finished with 21 points. Chris Paul added 20 and Nerlens Noel added 13 points go to with 12 rebounds for a double-double off the bench.

NOTABLE

• The Trail Blazers outrebounded the Thunder 18-13 on the offensive glass, with Portland’s 18 offensive rebounds being a season-high.

• Both teams recorded over 50 rebounds, with the Thunder taking the edge 54-51.

• The Trail Blazers recorded at least seven steals and seven blocks in the same game for the third time this season.

• Portland dished out 16 assists, while Oklahoma City had 12, representing a season-low for a Trail Blazers opponent.

• Portland outscored Oklahoma City in the paint, 42-34.

QUOTABLE

"I think we’ve got a lot of guys who to start the season, weren’t getting a lot of minutes, and you have a couple injuries and now getting a lot of minutes. Some guys who were in the rotation, now they’re not in the rotation, some other guys are in the rotation playing four different positions – so we’re kind of in a tough position. But we’re professionals so we should be able to take the hand we’ve been dealt and figure it out and make it work." -- Damian Lillard

HIGHLIGHTS

NEXT UP

Before heading out for two games on the road, the Trail Blazers wrap up a four-game homestead by hosting the New York Knicks Tuesday night at the Moda Center in the first meeting between the two teams this season. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

NEXT UP:

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