The Portland Trail Blazers ended their 4-game skid with a much-needed blowout victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday. Six Trail Blazers scored in double-figures, and opposing point guard Russell Westbrook was pulled from the game after playing just 27 minutes because Portland’s lead was insurmountable. The evening was a cathartic experience for both players and fans who have grown weary of loss after loss.
Evan Turner's 3-pointer with 9:55 left gives the Blazers a 26-point lead over Thunder. That kind of night.— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) December 14, 2016
Portland has won five consecutive games against Oklahoma City at the Moda Center.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) December 14, 2016
This game marked the first time that center Mason Plumlee has scored at least 18 points on back-to-back outings in a Trail Blazers jersey. His efforts on the offensive end were key to the team’s success. Plumlee attributed his standout performance to the play of his teammates.
The Trail Blazers’ defense was perhaps most important of all. Containing Westbrook is no easy task, but by successfully doing it, Portland paved their path to the winner’s circle.
The Blazers shot .538 from the field and won the battles in points in the paint (54-38) and fast-break points (17-8). But most important, they kept Westbrook and his teammates in check with solid defensive play. OKC was without its No. 2 scorer, shooting guard Victor Oladipo, who injured his wrist against the Celtics.
Westbrook — who came into the game with a dozen triple-doubles and is averaging a triple-double for the season — finished with 20 points, six rebounds and six assists and sat out the final period. He made only 7 of 19 shots and had far too little help as the Blazers made stopping him their No. 1 priority.
Mike Richman of The Oregonian points out Westbrook’s frustration:
Whether it was the Blazers defense or just an off night, Westbrook was obviously frustrated throughout the game. He kicked a ball away from Lillard during a first half timeout and then launched the ball into the stands after picking up a frustration foul following an empty drive to the rim. He was eventually resigned to a spectator role in the fourth quarter as the Blazers put the game out of reach early.
The team now has one day off before embarking on yet another road trip—a 3-game stint that includes the league-leading Golden State Warriors (22-4) on Saturday, December 17. They will have an opportunity to climb back to .500 first, against the Denver Nuggets tomorrow.