The Oklahoma City Thunder have evened the score with the Portland Trail Blazers, a team that according to Kevin Durant they really don’t like, beating them for the second time in a row after another great game from the probably next MVP, although he needed a little bit of help from Jeremy Lamb and also the referees.
Explanation? Jeremy Lamb pretty much scored the game winning shot with 1:38 to go, a three pointer that gave the Thunder a 96-95 lead in a contest they were behind in for most of the night. From there on out there were missed on both sides – Aldridge, Lillard, Durant. After another Durant miss and 21 seconds left on the clock, Damian Lillard beat his defender (Reggie Jackson) and got into the paint, going up for the shot. He was fouled by Jackson, but no foul was called. Durant turned the ball over on the inbound pass which gave Aldridge a shot to get the lead back but he missed, and the Thunder closed the deal from the line before another desperate miss from Lillard.
We respect this team and they respect us, but we don’t like them and they don’t like us. We fought hard. We’re a resilient team. We’ve kept our heads up through adversity and tough times. I’m proud of our team.
Kevin Durant was edgy all game, getting yet another technical foul, something that has become too much of a habit for him. What’s also become a habit has been putting up big numbers: He scored 35 points, adding 10 rebounds and getting along fine without Serge Ibaka, who had only 7 points on 3-of-11 from the field. Reggie Jackson scoring 17 points and Jeremy Lamb having 19 off the bench (8-of-11 from the field) more than made up for it. The defense on Aldridge and Lillard did the rest.
The Blazers keep sinking, relatively to their pace early in the season. They’ve lost two in a row to the Thunder, making it an even 2-2 in the season series with an impressive 401-401 scoreline between the two teams. What should be of greater concern to Portland is their five wins out of their last 12 games, and the struggles Aldridge and Lillard are going through. Aldridge did have a 12-12 double double, but he shot an awful 5-of-22, missing plenty of shots he usually makes. Lillard scored 16 points on 5-of-15 from the field, as the Blazers shot only 37.6% through the night.
Nicolas Batum usually does well against Durant and had a strong performance with 18 points and 4 assists, being one of only two players to shoot over 50% from the field along with Robin Lopez. However, he had only 8 shots, and the Blazers probably went too much with their usual go to guys instead of the hot hand.
The Thunder continue to impress without Westbrook, if anyone even remembers he’s part of the team. They are now 42-12 this season, putting them four games ahead of the Spurs and five ahead of the Blazers, while Houston and the Clippers are both strong in the battle for spots 2-to-5. The MVP race is probably going to Durant unless something unusual happens. The same goes for the number one spot in the West.