The Portland Trail Blazers haven’t experienced many blowouts this season, but they seemed intent on making up for it all in one night as they faced the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. Stifling defense put the Thunder up early. Then they dissected Portland with unstoppable center Chet Holmgren and a barrage of three-point shooting, neither of which the Blazers could match.
The result was a 134-91 Thunder victory. Oklahoma City shot 61% from the three-point arc. The Blazers shot 40% from the field. That’s about all you need to know about how this game went. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 28. Jerami Grant scored 14 as Portland’s leading scorer.
The Thunder started the game striking like lightning. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chet Holmgren, and Lu Dort all scored, as Oklahoma City shot 100% from the field. On the other end they zoned up defensively, leaving the three-pointer open for Portland. The Blazers went 0-3 from distance. OKC led 11-2 at the 8:30 mark when Head Coach Chauncey Billups called a rebooting timeout.
The reset helped a bit, as Deandre Ayton, Shaedon Sharpe, and Toumari Camara scored right at the rim in quick succession. Portland crept back within 3 before OKC went on another offensive run. Gilgeous-Alexander and Dort proved too much to stop.
Jerami Grant got in the middle, converting in the lane and at the foul line to keep the Blazers in contact. They sorely needed it, because nothing outside of 8 feet was falling. With 3:20 remaining, Portland trailed 20-15.
Davis Bertans barbequed the Blazers from long range at the end of the period. Oklahoma City was hitting threes with almost no daylight. The Blazers could barely get a pick and roll straight. They finally hit a couple long-distance shots heading down the stretch, but the Thunder did the same and more. Oklahoma City led 33-21 after one.
The story didn’t get any better at the start of the second. Chet Holmgren DESTROYED the Blazers, converting four shots at the rim, in and out of transition, adding a three for good measure. The Blazers shot 1-9 during the same span. It was Chet 11, Blazers 2 for the period before someone else scored. And that was Kenrich Williams hitting a defended three with no time left on the shot clock off of a busted play. Le sigh.
With 7:00 left in the second, Oklahoma City had a 49-25 lead. It was like a bad blind date, a disaster before the appetizers were finished.
Unfortunately, there were still six courses to go. Oklahoma City stifled Portland with their defense. Portland hit 8 of their first 23 attempts in the period. Meanwhile the Thunder had 8 makes in the restricted area alone, with 5 three-pointers besides. This date was picking their nose, wiping it on the tablecloth, and looking at their phone the entire time. How soon can we get out of this? Please?
And then they hit a couple more threes to close the half. Flirting with the server too? Really???
Oklahoma City led 76-43 at intermission. They shot over 71% for the half, shooting 11-15 from the arc. Seriously, make an excuse about using the restroom, call an Uber, and go home.
Defying the odds, and perhaps common sense, the Blazers took the floor for the third quarter. Fortunately their offense showed up, even if it was two quarters late. Skylar Mays and Shaedon Sharpe hit threes, while Deandre Ayton and Toumari Camara scored inside.
No matter how well the Blazers defended—and it was on and off—they couldn’t shut off the Thunder offense. Oklahoma City met Portland’s rush shot for shot. Isaiah Joe and Josh Giddey took over where Gilgeous-Alexander and Holmgren left off. Kris Murray hit a three with 2:45 remaining to a nice round of applause from the crowd. That was the last scoring Portand would do in the quarter. They finished the third with 66. Oklahoma City had 101.
Both benches emptied at the start of the fourth. Jabari Walker went on another one of his spurts of excellence. Jamaree Bouyea tried a bunch of drive and dish. Even here, though, the Thunder outscored them. Oklahoma City played with confidence and purpose. The Blazers appeared to be manufacturing offense in six different ways, none of which were effective. Basically, the Thunder hit as many threes as the Blazers hit shots, period. With the game long since over, it didn’t mean much aside from the obvious morale boost for OKC.
Stay tuned for extended analysis, coming soon.
The Blazers will head to Phoenix to face the Suns on Tuesday night at 6:00 PM, Pacific.