Red-hot Blazers halt streaking Thunder behind Aldridge’s 38 points
As time wound down in the Trail Blazers’ victory over the Oklahoma City, LaMarcus Aldridge was showered with shouts of "MVP! MVP!" from the Portland fans.
Aldridge had a season-high 38 points and added 13 rebounds in the Blazers’ 111-104 win Wednesday night that snapped the Thunder’s eight-game winning streak.
It was his ninth double-double and 15th game with at least 20 points this season. He made a career-high 17 field goals.
"Just surreal. It was humbling to have that moment here," Aldridge said of the crowd’s reaction. "I’ve been here so long and I’ve had very few of those type of chants here. So that was fun. I thought that made the night complete for me."
The victory gives the surprising Blazers a 16-3 record this season, best in the Western Conference and second only to Indiana overall. Portland has won 14 of its last 15 games, a stretch that includes an 11-game winning streak.
Nicolas Batum’s 3-pointer with 29.9 seconds to go all but sealed it for Portland, which had lost seven straight against Oklahoma City.
The Thunder led by as many as 12 points in the first half, but Aldridge led a third-quarter rally and Portland built a 91-84 lead on consecutive 3-pointers from Dorell Wright and Damian Lillard with 7:58 left.
Russell Westbrook’s 3-pointer pulled the Thunder within 95-94 before Reggie Jackson’s two free throws gave them a short-lived lead with 5:34 to go. Aldridge hit a layup and a jumper to make it 105-100 for the Blazers.
Durant and Westbrook narrowed it again with consecutive baskets, but Batum’s 3-pointer made it 108-104 before Durant missed a 3 on the other end. The Blazers made free throws for the final margin.
Durant finished with 33 for the Thunder, who were playing the second game of a back-to-back after defeating Sacramento 97-95 Tuesday night. Westbrook had 21 points.
"He was shooting turnarounds from almost the 3-point line over the top of our bigs and knocking them down," Durant said of Aldridge. "That’s what great players do, they come through in the clutch and make shots."
Batum and Lillard added 14 points apiece for the Blazers, who were coming off a 106-102 victory over Indiana on Monday. Portland is 8-1 at home.
Aldridge scored 16 of his points in the third quarter, when the Blazers outscored the Thunder 35-21.
"I don’t know if I have the words, to be honest," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said of Aldridge’s night. "Offensively, obviously he can score. But I liked his toughness, I liked his leadership, I liked his competitive fire. As much as he played very well, it was a lot of the intangibles that I really appreciated from him tonight."
Wright’s bank jumper evened the game at 27 to start the second quarter. It was close throughout the half, with Portland’s Batum on Durant much of the time.
Durant took off on a fast break for a dunk and added a free throw to give the Thunder a 55-47 lead, their biggest of the game to that point.
Westbrook attempted a 3-pointer and the refs called a foul on Portland’s Wesley Matthews, prompting an angry reaction from Stotts, who was given a technical, and the Thunder finished the half on a 9-0 for a 59-48 advantage.
Durant led all scorers in the half with 17 points.
"They hit a lot of tough 2s on us, shots we can live with," Durant said. "But they made enough to beat us."
One bright spot for the Blazers was center Robin Lopez, who had 12 points and five rebounds in the first half. Acquired by the Blazers from New Orleans in a three-team offseason trade, Lopez finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Batum’s 3 got the Blazers within 67-64 before Matthews’ layup got them within one midway through the third quarter. Batum’s pull-up jumper gave Portland a 70-69 lead, and Aldridge added a long jumper.
The Blazers clung to the lead until Durant’s jumper tied it at 78, but Aldridge answered with a turnaround jumper to cap a 10-point streak for the two-time All-Star.
"I’ve been saying it from the start — he’s the best power forward in the game," Matthews said
NOTES: Oklahoma City is 9-0 at home but 4-4 on the road. … Portland has lost only one game at home this season. … Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks and running back Storm Woods were at the game. The Beavers (6-6) are waiting to see if they’re headed to a bowl in the postseason. … Oregon Ducks receiver Josh Huff was also at the game. … Coming off a six-game home stand, Oklahoma City is playing three games in four nights before heading home to face Indiana on Sunday. … Lopez has seven double-doubles this season.