In a potential first round playoff preview, the Oklahoma City Thunder bounced back from some recent struggles to blow out the Blazers at home. Russell Westbrook completed a triple double in 21 minutes and all but bought the Blazer defense a one way ticket back to Portland. The Thunder played confidently and the Blazers couldn't solve the rolling Thunder offense.
In a night where the backcourt struggled immensely, the Blazers were led by Damian Lillard who finished with 21 points before sitting out the fourth quarter. CJ McCollum added a quiet 15 points. Westbrook's big game (17 points, 16 assists, 10 rebounds) was flanked by Enes Kanter who scored 26 points and Kevin Durant with 20.
There was no lack of offense to start this one with McCollum hitting a few early shots to loosen up the Blazers and Aminu complementing his defense with a few nice cuts and open threes. Westbrook posted up Lillard to varying success and the Thunder seemed determined to attack the hoop. Three Durant free throws cut the lead to 21-19 for the Blazers and the first round of subs took the floor.
The Blazers' offense slowed down with the second unit and the Thunder scored 15 straight to end the quarter. The normally dependable subs seemed to have left their sense of urgency back in Portland. Durant at the 4 gave Meyers Leonard fits and he quickly was subbed out in favor of Maurice Harkless. The Thunder ended the first up nine and with all momentum in their favor.
End of First: Portland 22 Oklahoma City 31
The Blazers attacked the holes in the Thunder defense (Kanter and Singler) but came up with empty due to the fact that nobody could buy a basket. Offensively, the Thunder kept clicking and the Durant led second unit converted countless open jumpers. An Anthony Morrow 3 pushed the lead to 41-26. It wasn't quite the hopeless evening against the Warriors but at least in that game the Blazers had some offensive success. After a quick start, the basket looked like one of those carnival games with a smaller and oversensitive rim.
The story of the half was all field goal percentage. The Thunder shot nearly 56% in the first half and held the Blazers to 31%. Every time the Blazers missed another shot, Westbrook pushed the ball down the floor and attacked the Blazers' transition defense. Anytime that the Blazers looked like they might make a run, Westbrook would beat Lillard off the dribble and dish to one of their bigs for an easy basket. Westbrook finished one rebound shy of a first half triple double but he couldn't be too disappointed with his Thunder in firm control.
Halftime: Portland 42 Oklahoma City 66
Any hope of an early third quarter rally was all but dashed by continued shooting woes and the offensive dominance of Oklahoma City. A pair of Westbrook free throws pushed the lead to 32 by the middle of the quarter. The Blazer offense was characterized by loud clangs off the rim and the defense exemplified by Westbrook dicing the Blazer defense.
After a worrisome neck stinger for Lillard, he hit back to back shots to show that he was, indeed, present in this game. But besides a spurt in the third quarter, Lillard was pretty quiet and the Blazers never threatened the lead. The Thunder broke the 30 point mark for the third straight quarter to put the game out of reach.
End of Third: Portland 72 Oklahoma City 102
The only stop to the Thunder onslaught was a net malfunction early in the quarter. After an emergency taping, the Thunder continued to roll. Chris Kaman checked in early in the quarter, quietly carrying the white flag. Thunder win, 128-94.
The Blazers have two days off before taking on the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday at 5:30 PT. Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge tonight, for extended analysis of this game from Dave Deckard.