Russell Westbrook was clearly the best player on the court, but when you are without the reigning MVP and multiple scorers due to injuries while only having nine active players, it is hard to come away with a win. The Oklahoma City Thunder found that out as they lost 106-89 in their season opener against the Portland Trail Blazers.
As Westbrook (38 points, 6 assists and 3 steals on 11-26 shooting) blew by helpless Blazers defenders and dominated the game early, it looked like the Thunder might actually walk away from the Rose Garden, but the Thunder and Westbrook just didn't have enough to beat one of the top teams in the daunting Western Conference.
It's tough to win when a guy like Lance Thomas is your second best player in a game. In all fairness, Thomas looked surprisingly good in his first game on the Thunder. He scored 10 first quarter points and finished with 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Serge Ibaka however really struggled for the Thunder--not looking comfortable catching the ball and having to create. He scored 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting while committing 5 turnovers, but did block four Blazer shots.
For the Blazers, LaMarcus Aldridge continued where he left off last regular season, knocking down mid-range jumpers with ease and finishing with 27 points. The Blazers got hot from behind the arc, making nine of their last 12 3-pointers to put the Thunder away.
What was main reason the Thunder lost?
The Thunder simply had no scoring options in the 4th quarter. They led 77-75 heading into the final quarter, but were subsequently dominated by Portland, 31-12 in the final period. Playing with a weak nine man rotation these days makes it really tough to play a complete 48 minutes, especially when nobody other than Westbrook is making shots. Kudos to the Blazers for taking advantage of the Thunder's lack of depth. by grinding through the first 3 quarters to put the hammer down in the 4th.
Best performance: Russell Westbrook
Win or lose, Westbrook was amazing. The Thunder may have lost by 40 tonight if Westbrook didn't have a game like he did.
Best Peyton Manning impersonation: Nick Collison
Nice little dart to Russ for the dunk before half.
Roughest first game of the year: Perry Jones III
I was often uncomfortable watching Jones tonight. He never seemed too comfortable either. I am sure we will see him become more confident, but I cringed every time he touched the ball. It was a rough first game. He finished with three points on 1-of-9 shooting.
Second best Vine of the night: Westbrook doing Westbrook things in the open court.
Next Up: @ Los Angeles Clippers, 10/30
P.S. I don't think Chris Paul slept tonight after watching Westbrook.