Durant’s late run pushes Thunder past Blazers
By JEFF LATZKE
AP Sports Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Kevin Durant and Brandon Roy are reviving an old Northwest Division rivalry in a new location.
Durant came out on top in the second meeting between the young All-Stars in eight days, scoring eight of his 34 points during Oklahoma City’s decisive run in the final 5 minutes, and the Thunder beat the Portland Trail Blazers 110-108 on Friday night.
Russell Westbrook scored 36 points on his 22nd birthday, but it was Durant who scored the final eight points in a 10-0 run that turned the Thunder’s five-point deficit into a 105-100 lead with 1:29 to play. He hit a floater in the lane, followed by a series of three straight jumpers – then ran into flying chest bumps with his teammates when Portland called timeout.
“Towards the end of the game, Kevin did a good job. He found a spot that he wanted on the floor and he demanded the ball there and he didn’t get pushed off of that spot,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
“Once he gets the ball, and the way he was shooting down the stretch, he’s tough to stop.”
The Blazers, who had three straight shots blocked by Oklahoma City during the run, came back with Nicolas Batum’s jumper before Marcus Camby swatted away Westbrook’s driving layup try. Roy had a pair of putbacks that each got Portland within one and then hit two free throws to trim the deficit to 109-108 with 13 seconds left.
Durant missed the second of two free throws with 12.3 seconds to go, but Rudy Fernandez missed a 3-pointer from the corner with 2.9 seconds left that would’ve put Portland ahead.
“I don’t think we could have got a better look,” said Roy, lamenting that he didn’t get to take the final shot. “I thought those last couple plays, I was able to get to the basket and get some contact. Yeah, I wanted it. I definitely wanted it – more now because now I don’t want Rudy being down on himself. I feel like I can handle missing that, and I don’t want him second-guessing it next time.”
Roy led the Blazers with 24 points and played 35 minutes just three days after he created a stir in Portland by getting a heat wrap on the same right knee that needed arthroscopic surgery to fix a meniscus tear leading up to the playoffs last season.
Batum added a season-high 21 points, Andre Miller had 19 points and 10 assists, and Fernandez scored 15 off the bench in another down-to-the-wire thriller between the divisional rivals.
The Thunder came back from a 13-point deficit to win in overtime at Portland a week earlier. If this trend continues, that Portland-Seattle rivalry could be reborn long distance.
“It’s definitely competitive games,” Roy said. “They’ve done a better job than us in both games of making plays down the stretch to win. We had our chance tonight. We just missed it.
“When they had their chance, they tipped it in and got overtime. They’re just making the plays. Kevin made the plays, Russell made plays, so you’ve got to just give them credit. They’re taking it from us late in games.”
Westbrook, who made his playoff debut last season with the Thunder, said the atmosphere from both recent games felt like a postseason contest.
“Both crowds are real loud, and it’s similar both places, so it definitely feels like one,” Westbrook said.
Portland sustained a third-quarter charge from the Thunder before pulling back ahead with a 10-0 run that included Batum’s three-point play on a nifty flip in the lane, Fernandez’s two-handed dunk on the fast break at the end of the third quarter, and a 3-pointer by Fernandez to start the fourth.
Roy’s two free throws finished the run and made it 92-84 Portland before Oklahoma City started nibbling its way back.
Westbrook’s 3-pointer got the Thunder within 97-95 and the sellout crowd on its feet momentarily before Fernandez answered at the other end with a 3 of his own.
Westbrook hit two free throws after being fouled on a drive to the basket on Oklahoma City’s next possession, then the Thunder went to work on defense while Durant heated up.
Westbrook swatted Fernandez’s shot, then Serge Ibaka had back-to-back blocks against LaMarcus Aldridge and Roy to keep Portland off the board while Durant was hitting one shot after another. The Blazers were shooting 58 percent and up 100-95 with 4:35 remaining then went only 3-for-11 down the stretch.
“We got stops when we needed them,” Durant said. “I think it’s going to start to come around for us on the defensive end.
“We always seem to play one half of good defense. I think if we continue to keep working, we’re going to start to put two halves together. But tonight, it was a good win for us and we needed it.”
Notes: Thunder starting power forward Jeff Green missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle. Third-string point guard Royal Ivey was not with the Thunder for personal reasons, but Brooks expected him back for Sunday’s game against San Antonio. … C Greg Oden, Portland’s No. 1 pick ahead of Durant in the 2007 draft, has now missed five straight games and nine of 14 in his career against Oklahoma City/Seattle. The Blazers won four of the five he played in. … Nate McMillan became the first NBA coach to three technical fouls this season when he drew a whistle with 8:32 left in the first half, arguing after Miller had a shot blocked by Eric Maynor.
Updated November 13, 2010