Thunder 110, Trail Blazers 108
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
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
”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
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
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
”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
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