Facing a depleted Oklahoma City team, all Portland had to do was wait till their shooters got hot. In the end, they accomplished that and more in a win over the Thunder on opening night.
The teams traded early runs in the first quarter. The Thunder took an early 12-2 run for a 16-4 lead, only to have the Blazers return the favor and take back the lead off a 7-0 run. LaMarcus Aldridge had a fantastic first quarter, scoring 15 points on six of eight shooting. Despite his efforts, the Thunder led by five after one.
The second quarter saw a reversal of recent Trail Blazers basketball. Robin Lopez and Chris Kaman dominated on both ends of the floor, securing six offensive rebounds in the second quarter alone. However, the Blazers offense went cold, with the starters combining to shoot 3-of-15 in the period. Damian Lillard was scoreless in the half, the first time that has happened since December 12 of last season versus Houston. With the shots not falling and some questionable calls by the referees on shots by Russell Westbrook, the Thunder maintained their five point advantage.
Nicolas Batum rallied the Blazers in the third, scoring 12 points as Portland cut the lead to two going into the final period. At that point, the shots finally started falling for Portland, as they seized a lead they would not relinquish, punctuated by a room-rocking alley-oop from Batum to Aldridge.
Aldridge led the Blazers with 27, Batum had 16 (all in the second half), and Kaman was solid off the bench scoring 12.
Gameday Thread Quotes
Thanks to all who participated in our monster Gameday Thread, which tallied almost 3,000 comments! Here were a few of our favorites:
Things I learned tonight:
1. Pittsburg has a NBA team
2. Westbrook is a flopper
3. The Blazers have a bench
4. We are undefeated!!
- OKC came out and played inspired ball. Portland looked tentative. Westbrook is going to have a chance to show whether or not he is a franchise player. He will put up 30 alot until Durant comes back.
- For the Blazers—LMA did his thing. smooth. Lillard was shaky to start but got his game going in the 2nd half. Same with Batum. Kaman looked solid. Blake looked really familiar. The biggest thing that I hope the bench can bring this year is the ability to maintain (or dare I say extend leads) and keep the team as a whole refreshed.
- Defense was terrible in the 1st quarter, but you wouldn’t have known it based on the final score. I have to get up early for work, so good night all.
I loved the team huddle at the end. We have our two all stars but it’ll be a real team effort to progress further than they went last year.
Portland outscored Oklahoma City, 31-12, in the fourth quarter and shot 6-for-7 from the 3-point line in the period.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) October 30, 2014
Scott Brooks on managing Russell Westbrook's minutes: "It's never easy to take him out. ... But you've got to be smart."— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) October 30, 2014
RT @TrailBlazersPR: Portland has now won 14 consecutive home openers, tied for the longest such streak in NBA history (Boston, 1979-92).— heykim (@heykim) October 30, 2014
Scott Brooks after game: "I thought our guys played their hearts out. We just made too many mistakes in the 4th qtr." pic.twitter.com/dV0TMHcFTc— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) October 30, 2014
Asked what's Stotts told the team at the half: Batum said: "That we had to wake up and work harder than them." #Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) October 30, 2014
"I'm going to shoot more [threes] but I'm not going to live out there." LaMarcus Aldridge— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) October 30, 2014
Asked 1 player if this was a must win, he agreed. "It would've been a bad loss for us." OKC without KD and other, #Blazers had to get this W— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) October 30, 2014
"I felt like I was 18 again."-- LaMarcus Aldridge on his alley oop finish in the 4th quarter.— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) October 30, 2014
LaMarcus said he went off on his team at the half...not like him, but had to be done #Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) October 30, 2014
"I'm not going to say that [NW division runs through us] but we should take advantage of them not being at full strength." L Aldridge on OKC— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) October 30, 2014