With LaMarcus Aldridge clearly struggling 5-22 for 12 points with 12 rebounds), the Blazers spread the load across a bunch of players tonight: Damian Lillard (16 points, 7 assists), CJ McCollum (15 points, 3 assists), Wesley Matthews (11 points), Nicolas Batum (18 points), and Robin Lopez (17 points and 14 rebounds).
Joel Freeland suffered a knee injury in the first quarter. It looked bad, and we'll have updates as they become available.
First Half: Portland played unexpectedly solid defense to open the game, moving Batum onto Reggie Jackson and Matthews onto Kevin Durant in a "somebody besides KD must beat us" mentality. It was effective, as no other starters had points in the first half, and Portland jumped to an early 12 point lead. Then came the bad news, as Freeland went down with an ugly-looking knee injury, and the collective wind was let out of the sails of the Blazer players and fans. Oklahoma City stormed back, taking the lead in the second quarter while McCollum kept things close. But as the starters returned, Portland picked up the defense again, and went on a late roll to regain a double digit lead heading into the locker room.
Portland 65, Oklahoma City 55
Third Quarter: Portland simply maintained the lead early, but multiple three pointers from OKC closed the gap. Aldridge was clearly struggling through the evening, as the other starters tried to cover. When Durant went to the bench with his fourth foul, Oklahoma City took the lead with 2 minutes left in the quarter. The teams jockeyed for position down the stretch, and a Batum three-pointer kept things deadlocked.
Oklahoma City 80, Portland 80
Fourth Quarter: Portland bumped ahead early with a quick four point run, but could capitalize on repeated Oklahoma City turnovers. They eventually woke up, scoring 7 points in two possessions to jump ahead by 3. Both teams ramped up the defense, and Batum and McCollum combined for 5 straight points to regain the lead. At the 3 minute mark, the game was still tied, as neither team could find clean shots, and Blazers Coach Terry Stotts called for a timeout.
Portland took the lead out of the timeout, but a Jackson layup tied it for OKC at the two minute mark. Matthews missed at the other end, but Lopez tipped it in. Jeremy Lamb hit a three-pointer to put OKC ahead, and Aldridge missed a fadeaway at the other end as the clock ticked under one minute. Portland got two stops on OKC... but Lillard missed a three pointer, and on the next possession he lost possession of the ball out of bounds. A rough stretch for Lillard and the Blazers.
OKC inbounded to Durant... who was harrassed by Batum and lost the ball out of bounds. Portland took possession with 12 seconds left, down one. On a broken play, they went to Aldridge for a jumper, which missed. OKC took control and finished the game on free throws.
The Blazers fly to Los Angeles tonight for a game against the Clippers tomorrow. Then it's finally the All-Star break.
Stay tuned for more analysis of this game from Dave, and Ben's Media Row Report.
Gameday Thread Comments of the Night:
Thanks to everyone who participated in tonight's Gameday Thread! As always, here are the most popular comments, based on the number of Rec's from their fellow fans: