In a game with full playoff atmosphere, the Portland Trail Blazers came up short against Oklahoma City in overtime tonight. The game turned with 6 seconds left, as the refs called goaltending against the Blazers on a clean block [see video]. The Blazers never recovered in overtime. If you want a night to complain that the refs cost the Blazers the game, this is it.
The Blazers were again led by the red-hot LaMarcus Aldridge (39 points, 6 rebounds), with Wesley Matthews (18 points, 4 assists), Nicolas Batum (13 points), Jamal Crawford (17 points) and Marcus Camby (8 points, 15 rebounds) supporting him.
The Blazers started out hot in the first quarter, taking an early lead. Aldridge brought his nightly game-face, hitting shots from the left, the right, and down the middle. At the other end, Durant helped keep OKC close. Late in the quarter, the Blazers held an 8 point lead, but OKC hit 6 quick points to close to within two after the first. Not good when OKC had 7 turnovers.
OKC quickly completed the comeback and took the lead early in the second. The Blazers were their own worst enemy, repeatedly fouling players while in the act of shooting, making the penalty irrelevant. OKC tried to pull away, but the Blazers deftly took advantage of their mistakes and misses to play to a standstill. However, the OKC big guys wrest control of the game through rebounding, Behind a 30-17 first-half rebounding advantage (including 9 offensive), OKC leaves the court with an 8 point lead. A real killer for the Blazers? They were 3-9 on FT's, to OKC's 12-14.
Same old, same old to start the third, as OKC quickly jumped to a 12 point lead, mostly on dunks. Finally, Portland fought back, with Alridge helping them score the next 13 points to take the lead. But with their energy expended, OKC regained control, capitalizing on rebounding and Blazer mistakes (more botched fast breaks and poor guard play) to lead by 12. However, the Blazers close the quarter well, scoring the last 6 points to stay within 6 after three. Nobody in the GDT could figure out how the Blazers won the third quarter.
OKC tries to push the lead as the fourth quarter opens, but the Blazers will have none of that. The bench, led by Nic Batum, cut the lead to one point with 8:30 remaining. Again, their energy ran out, as OKC dunked their way to a bigger lead again... but not for long, as Aldridge and Batum fought back to take the lead with 6:11 left. The teams traded buckets until Aldridge pulled the up-and-under move for a 4 point lead with 3:30 left, then added two FT's for a 6 point lead with 2:15 left. However, OKC's defense pushed Portland from the hoop, and OKC tied the game with 1:00 left. Crawford hit a jumper to take a two point lead, but OKC had a shot to tie. KD goes for the layup, and Aldridge cleanly blocked it, only to be called for goaltending. Batum was blocked, and we headed to overtime.
Overtime is a pretty predictable affair for the Blazers. They try hard, but can't hit shots, and eventually came up short. Credit to OKC, who took full advantage of the gift provided by the half-court referee.
Revisit the box score, then stay tuned for Dave's recap and Ben's media row report. We all have a day off and a breather, and the Blazers are back on the court Wednesday night, hosting the Rockets. -- Tim