After a tough outing against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, the Portland Trail Blazers were looking to take out their frustrations on the Oklahoma City Thunder on the second night of a back-to-back. Oklahoma City came into the Moda Center short most of their starting lineup. The Blazers came in short of patience. The result was a decisive blowout. Portland jumped on the Thunder early, then extended their lead throughout the game, finishing with a 133-85 final margin that became a balm to fresh wounds.
Eight Blazers players, including five off the bench, reached double figures in this game, led by CJ McCollum with 20. Portland approached 50% shooting from the field while holding the Thunder to 35.3% overall, 23.5% from the arc.
The Blazers didn’t start out in their best form. Their offense showed cracks. Jusuf Nurkic was a little slow; Norman Powell and Damian Lillard missed threes. But even hitting a couple long balls was enough to push them ahead of a completely discombobulated Thunder team. Oklahoma City tried to execute their offense. On the rare occasions their passes found targets, they scored easily. That happened seldom. Turnovers and broken plays were the norm. One could say Portland’s defense was good, but it’d be just as accurate to say the Thunder’s lack of firepower and coordination made everything Portland did look better. When the Blazers’ offense heated up mid-period, the squash was on. The Thunder hit only 7 field goals in the period against 13 for Portland. The Blazers led 35-19 after one.
Oklahoma City started hitting shots at the start of the second period. They could hardly miss, scoring right at the rim. It provided modest, but somewhat convincing, evidence that their woes were self-inflicted and not due to Portland’s defensive prowess. On the other end, Powell converted a couple of layups. But modest interior offense wasn’t enough to keep OKC at bay. Scoring freely, the Thunder cut the lead from 21 to 11 before the halfway mark of the period. Carmelo Anthony put a stop to OKC’s run with a couple of three-pointers, bailing out his team. That provided enough of a bridge to get the Blazers back to their starting unit. Despite Lillard’s difficulty scoring, Powell, CJ McCollum and company still put enough points on the board to make up for any slippage earlier in the quarter. Friendly three-point barrages cover up a host of evils. The Blazers led 65-46 at the half.
Powell came out hot again to start the third period, pushing Portland up over a 20-point margin. With such a large lead, the Blazers were playing free and easy. Jusuf Nurkic ran around on both ends with abandon. Lillard and McCollum shot wherever and whenever they wanted. This resulted in a 16-1 run that put the lead up to 30. Around the 8:00 mark the Thunder called a timeout to reassess the meaning of their lives. On the next Portland play, Lillard converted an easy layup, causing OKC to call another rapid timeout to reinforce their plans. After the ensuing inbounds, Powell stole the ball and converted another layup. At a certain point, this game stopped being fair. (Hint: That point might have been when the lead got to 40.) Portland led 104-59 at the end of three.
The fourth quarter did little to change the character of the game. The reserves played the entire frame. Harry Giles III hit a couple of threes. Anfernee Simons and CJ Elleby pushed the ball inside. Oklahoma City scored too, but Portland maintained the lead between 40-45 through most of the period, increasing the final margin to 48 as the game wound to a close.
Stay tuned for the extended recap with detailed analysis of the game!
The Blazers will travel to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Tuesday night at 7:00, Pacific.