USA TODAY Sports
The Portland Trail Blazers gave it all they had, but Oklahoma City eventually held on for a very close win, despite the absence of Thabo Sefalosha and Serge Ibaka.
The Blazers were led by LaMarcus Aldridge, with 33 points and 11 rebounds. Unfortunately, he missed the game-tying shot. Nicolas Batum scored 21 points with 7 rebounds, and unfortunately, he missed a late layup that would have given the Blazers the lead. The rest of the Blazer lineup was quiet tonight, with Damian Lillard adding 9 points and 9 assists.
First Half: The Blazers did a nice job of staying close to OKC to start the game. Aldridge's shot was falling, so Portland relied on him heavily. They would fall behind by 5, close with within one or so, and then would be down 5 again. Lather, rinse, repeat, until the first quarter buzzer, when they were down 3. This continued through the second quarter, until the sixth minute mark, when the Blazers went on a 10-0 run, aided by a (probably wrong!) foul call on a missed Batum three-pointer. OKC called timeout, down 4. Despite a number of boneheaded Blazer plays down the stretch, they still led by 1 at the half. OKC clearly suffered from the lack of their defensive anchors, combined with poor shooting.
We're ahead. Game over. Good game.
Third Quarter: Before you could say, "I really don't like playing this team," Oklahoma City was back in the lead. As the Blazer shots continued to bounce off the rim, that lead quickly reached double-digits. The misses continued from Portland, but the lead didn't grow, as OKC was struggling to make things happen as well. They led by 9 at the horn.
LMA has even started rebounding really well now... seems consistent and well worked for.
Fourth Quarter: The Blazers made a run. In the first four minutes, they broke down the defense for a few good shots, and had a nice dunk on the break to cut the lead to 5. However, the fourth quarter fouls started to add up, and when Russell Westbrook hit a three, the lead was 10 with 3:30 left. Aldridge and Batum combined to cut the deficit to 4 with 2 minutes left. Then the same with 1 minute left. Batum hit a big three pointer, then the Blazers got a back-court steal. Batum went to the rim on the break... and missed a soft layup. Perkins was fouled with 8 seconds left, and made one of two.
With 8.5 seconds left, the Blazers suddenly had the ball, down by 2. They handed the ball to Aldridge, who airballed a jumper. Westbrook sealed the win with free throws.