The Oklahoma City Thunder ranks as the second highest scoring team in the NBA. With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder also brought the league’s highest scoring duo to the Rose Garden Tuesday night, along with the highest scoring bench player in James Harden. And after piling up the highest first-half point total of any Blazer opponent this season, the Thunder made sure Portland’s highest hopes of pulling off an upset were blown away early.
Westbrook weaved his way up and down the Rose Garden floor for 32 points and eight assists, while Durant bombed away for 25 points as the Western-Conference-leading Thunder put up 65 first-half points and pulled away from the Blazers late to win 109-95.
Harden chipped in 21 points off the bench for Oklahoma City, who led by as many as 21 points.
LaMarcus Aldridge paced the Blazers with 20 points and eight rebounds, as Portland fell to 3-4 under interim head coach Kaleb Canales. Check out how LaMarcus evaluated his performance and the team's effort after the game.
Rookie Nolan Smith made his first professional start in place of Raymond Felton, who left the team to be with his mother while she undergoes a heart procedure. He looked tight at times, admitting that there were butterflies initially, but gave context to defending a guy like Russell Westbrook, whose 26 shots equated to 32 points, and looked onward to games coming.
Oklahoma City struck early and went up 28-14 on recently acquired Derek Fisher’s 3-pointer near the end of the first quarter. The longtime Laker was playing his fourth game since his free agent pick up last week.
The Thunder extended the lead to 57-40 in the second quarter on one of Westbrook’s many fast-break layups.
The Blazers narrowed it to 71-63 midway through the third quarter on Aldridge’s turnaround jumper, igniting the Rose Garden crowd. Wesley Matthews drained a 3-pointer to pull Portland within five points, but it was the closest Portland would ever get.
Matthews’ three capped a 17-2 Blazers run, but Westbrook slowed the momentum with another fast-break layup. Another Durant 3-pointer extended the margin to 82-72, and the Thunder cruised the rest of the way.
J.J. Hickson continued his impressive play off the bench since being acquired off waivers last week, and made his first eight shots toward 21 points.
Check out JJ Hickson after the game.
The Blazers were coming off a 90-87 victory over Golden State on Sunday. Thanks to the Thunder, Portland has still not had back-to-back wins since January 23-24 against Sacramento and Memphis.
After the game, Coach K spoke to the media about what went right and wrong in the loss. Even though the Blazers are trying to adopt a new "defense first" mentality, Coach Canales talks about where they fell short in that effort.
And Jonny Flynn came in off the bench, still seeing substantial minutes, 26 in all, for the Blazers, scoring 10 points, providing 4 assists as well. After the game, Peter Socotch talked with the newly acquired guard about how his body felt after all the playing time, the level of difficulty defending a guy like Russell Westbrook, and at the end, Peter tells Jonny about a fan who called in to the Morning Sports Page to give her stamp of approval on his butt. Yes, his butt. You have to hear it!
The Blazers can try for back-to-back wins again starting Thursday when they host New Orleans in the Rose Garden at 7:00 p.m. You can hear all the action on 750 am The Game, KXTG Portland.