The Blazers were led by LaMarcus Aldridge's 25 points, 14 rebounds and 2 assists, and Damian Lillard's 21 points, 11 assists, and 2 steely-eyed game-clinching free throws. Nicolas Batum (15 points), Wesley Matthews (16 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists) and Robin Lopez (12 points, 5 rebounds) provided support.
The Blazers stayed close in the first quarter, but when their shots went cold, OKC easily pulled ahead as the time ran out. The story went further downhill in the second quarter. Open threes were missing for Portland, and even well-defended shots were falling for OKC. Worse yet, many were not well-defended. OKC led by 12 at halftime, and Portland had only scored 42 points.
More of the same in the second half. Portland made runs to close the deficit to single digits, but their shots betrayed them again, along with their defense. And they did it with absolutely aggravating loud music playing over every possession. It's a little shocking that the NBA allows that still. Somehow, the Blazers stayed within 7 after three, because Oklahoma City couldn't sink shots to put the game away. The Blazers made their last-ditch attempt to come back, pulling within one with 6 minutes left. After exchanging buckets, they had a chance at the lead... and Kendrick Perkins fouled Aldridge. He hit both free throws to take the lead with 4 minutes left. Reggie Jackson gave them the lead, but Batum nailed a three-pointer in response. Portland couldn't extend the lead despite opportunities until Matthews hit a layup for a three point lead with two minutes left.
OKC went to Ibaka, who was fouled and hit one free throw. Aldridge missed, and Kevin Durant missed a terrible three-pointer in response. Aldridge's no-look pass (!) to Lopez led to two free throws, and a four point lead with 1 minute left. OKC tried to pass the ball to Durant, but the Blazers cut him off, and Jackson was fouled by Matthews. And somehow, Jackson missed his second free throw down the stretch. Now up three with 45 seconds left, Portland missed a three and got the rebound, but Thabo Sefalosha stole it from Lillard, leading to a foul for free throws. He hit both to cut the lead down to 1 with 24 seconds left.
The foul contest was now on. Mo Williams was well-guarded, and called Portland's last timeout with 19 seconds left. Finally, OKC fouled Mo with 15 seconds left. He promptly missed the first free throw, and the second... BUT LOPEZ AND ALDRIDGE GRABBED THE REBOUND. The ball got to Matthews, who was fouled with 9 seconds left. He calmly sank both for a three point lead with 9 seconds left. The Blazers played the statistics and fouled for possession immediately. Shockingly, Durant missed the second... but the ball came back to him for a jumper! And it bricked! Lillard came down with the ball and was fouled with 3 seconds left. He willed both free throws into the hoop. And just like that, Portland pulled off their most shocking win of the season.
The Blazers head home tonight and get a day off to regroup before Charlotte arrives for a Thursday night game. Stay tuned tonight for more from Dave, who's typing away on his analysis as I post this.
Happy New Years folks! Go celebrate the win with fireworks, if they're legal in your state, country and/or territory. Enjoy some time with family and friends, or feel free to hang out here! -- Tim
Gameday Thread Comments of the Night:
(Click on RipCitySam's comment at the top. It's totally worth your time.)