LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points and 16 rebounds, Damian Lillard had 29 points, and the Portland Trail Blazers overcame Russell Westbrook's third straight triple-double to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 115-112 Friday night at Moda Center.
Defense was at a premium in the first quarter, with both teams shooting over 46%. Aldridge had ten to lead the Blazers, Lillard had nine, and Robin Lopez contributed six. It was all they could do to contain Russell Westbrook, who had 12 of Oklahoma City's 25 points in the period. Aldridge got two of his ten off of a fast break dunk created by a fantastic pass from Nicolas Batum, who threaded the needle between Serge Ibaka and Mitch McGary. With a late three by Steve Blake, Portland led by three after one.
The second quarter was the stuff of nightmares for Portland fans. The Blazers shot just 6-of-22 from the field, missed seven shots from within four feet of the basket, and gave up basket after basket on fortunate tips to the wrong player. Batum, Lopez, and Wesley Matthews combined to shoot 0-for-10 in the period, and Oklahoma City took advantage. The Thunder led by as many as 14, with Anthony Morrow doing damage off of the bench with 11 points in the quarter. Portland would trail by 12 at halftime, with Lillard leading the Blazers in the quarter with six.
Both teams traded sets of runs in the third quarter, with Portland's 7-0 run matched by the Thunder's 10-0 run, matched by a Portland 10-0 run, matched by an Oklahoma City 14-4 run. The Blazers grew frustrated in the quarter with their inability to stop Ibaka and McGary from dunking in the post, and with some highly questionable calls by the referees. Lillard led all Blazers in the quarter with seven, but Oklahoma City led by 11 after three.
Finally the defense clamped down in the fourth quarter, and the Blazers stormed back into the game. With Oklahoma City leading by five, Matthews hit a corner three to cut the lead to two. Westbrook missed a jumper from the foul line, and Aldridge tipped in his own miss on the other end to tie the game at 103. Aaron Afflalo drilled a three to give Portland the lead, but Westbrook scored an and-one to even the score. Aldridge hit a shot over Ibaka to give Portland a lead, and on the other end of the court, Ibaka and Aldridge renewed their rivalry with a brief scrum after Ibaka gave a pair of elbows to Batum's chest. Both players were given a technical foul. With under a minute to play and the teams tied at 110, Matthews missed a short jumper, but Aldridge was fouled on the rebound. He would hit one of two free throws. Batum blocked Westbrook's shot on the other end, but Lillard missed a floater with 11 seconds remaining. Westbrook drove the lane, but missed and Afflalo grabbed the rebound. He hit both free throws, but Matthews fouled Westbrook on a near half-court shot for three free throws. Westbrook missed the first, but hit the second and third, allowing Lillard to hit free throws to seal the game.
Afflalo led the bench with 18 points on 6 attempts. Matthews finished with eight points on 2-of-13 shooting.
Gameday Thread Comments of the Night
Thanks to all who participated in tonight's Gameday Thread! We had more than 2,000 comments during this tight thriller. Here were some of the favorites:
This team is going to kill me one of these days.
by Bradley James McEachern
So crazy that we're 8-2 in our division, and the losses are to Utah and Minnesota
Worth Noting that Blazers played small with Aldridge at Center & Afflalo in.
That was a Terry Stotts Masterpiece. Loved pretty much every lineup change he made in this game. Our small-ball lineup is so big-time.
The Trail Blazers now have a .500 record (11-11) when trailing at the beginning of the fourth quarter this season (9-2 at home). #PORvsOKC— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) February 28, 2015
Portland has defeated Oklahoma City in three straight games for the first time since 2009 (four games). #PORvsOKC— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) February 28, 2015
LaMarcus Aldridge has scored 25 or more points in all three games against Oklahoma City this season. #PORvsOKC— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) February 28, 2015
The Trail Blazers improve to 8-2 vs. the Northwest Division this season (5-0 at home) and now hold a seven-game lead over Oklahoma City.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) February 28, 2015
Biggest stat of the 4Q: #Blazers got to the Free-throw line 18 times, Afflalo was there 7 of those times.... stop the clock, get the points— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) February 28, 2015
Arron Afflalo's 18 points tonight are the most by any Trail Blazer off the bench this season. #PORvsOKC— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) February 28, 2015
Russell Westbrook will be further evaluated for blow to face and will not speak to media— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) February 28, 2015
Matthews said he won't get an x-ray on his right hand though he was definitely favoring it after that final play.— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) February 28, 2015
Thunder say official update on Russell Westbrook likely coming on Saturday.— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) February 28, 2015
Asked if this was the biggest game he's been apart this season, Afflalo smiled and said: "Yeah. It's not even close."— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) February 28, 2015
"I don’t even know stats, none of that stuff. I know that we were down and made a spirited comeback..." - Arron Afflalo.— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) February 28, 2015
LaMarcus Aldridge dropped an "anything is possible" but laughed at himself halfway through saying it.— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) February 28, 2015
For as tight as tonight's game was, there were only two lead changes— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) February 28, 2015
"That’s what we do. We support each other. We move the ball. We play exciting basketball games." -- Dame— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) February 28, 2015
OKC had been 28-4 when leading after 3 (up by 11 tonight). Blazers now have 14 wins when trailing by 10-plus points.— Mike Barrett (@blazermb) February 28, 2015
VIDEO: LaMarcus Aldridge leaks out for a fast break dunk.
VIDEO: Blazers TV announcers Mike Barrett and Mike Rice are not pleased with Terry Stotts's technical foul.