The Portland Trail Blazers shot the lights out from deep on Sunday night, making 19 three-pointers on 44 attempts – both season-highs – and the Oklahoma City Thunder lost on the road by a final score of 115-110.
Damian Lillard had a monstrous night, shooting 8-of-14 from outside en route to leading all scorers with 31 points. He scored 17 of the Blazers' last 20. C.J. McCollum knocked down four threes and had 22 points.
All five Thunder starters turned in double figures in scoring. Kevin Durant scored 28 points on 10-of-23 shooting. Russell Westbrook had a rough start, but finished with 25 points, 9 rebounds and 15 assists. Steven Adams contributed a season-high 17 points. But the Thunder committed 19 turnovers and allowed 20 offensive rebounds, rendering all that scoring naught.
The Blazers got a boost from the Thunder's limitations. After Lillard scored a fast break layup off a Westbrook turnover with 7:22 in the third quarter, Portland extended their lead to double digits for the first time in the game.
But the Thunder put up a fight and it took them just over a minute to make it a one possession game. Durant found Serge Ibaka for a three that he made while Steven Adams got fouled. After Adams connected from the line, Westbrook followed up with two more free throws. Durant knocked down a jumper after that, part of his 14 points in the third. Westbrook also started to deliver and the dynamic duo were the driving force behind Thunder’s 39 point third quarter.
Just when you (or at least I) thought the Thunder would have the game in the pocket, Lillard happened. After a three-pointer from Andre Roberson gave the Thunder an eight-point cushion with 3:06 left, Lillard sank in five straight threes.
Nobody could handle that and it certainly did not help when Ibaka got rejected in the paint by Mason Plumlee while the Thunder trailed by three with 30 seconds to go. That sealed the deal on a narrow game, and frustrating loss.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
Again, it was frustrating, considering how close the Thunder were to pulling away after the dynamic duo found the rhythm. Westbrook nearly recorded a triple-double and had 23 of his 25 points in the second half. Durant showcased his nasty crossovers and outmatched every defender that the Blazers tried on him. Adding to that was the fact that the Thunder were aggressive and efficient in the paint offensively. Thanks to Westbrook's 15 assists (ten coming in the first half), Adams had his best game in terms of scoring.
After the final 180 seconds of the game, I had to rewrite most of the recap because, ugh... I thought the Thunder had it.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder lost?
The Thunder could barely restrict the Blazers from deep. Sometimes Portland was able to make pull-up shots off picks and other times the Thunder simply gave up looks in transition. It could've been even worse if the Blazers had made a few more of their open looks, too.
And turnovers added to the Thunder's woes as they either led to Portland’s transition buckets or gave up potential fast break points of their own.
Defensively, while the Thunder big men challenged Portland’s shots, they failed to finish the job on the boards. The Blazers were able to grab a lot of second chance points.
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant for an explosive third quarter.
Thunder Down Under: Russell Westbrook, for scoring 23 of his 25 points in the second half.
Thunder Blunder: Also Russ, for his struggles in the first half and team-high four turnovers.
Thunder Plunderer: Damian Lillard, for putting the Thunder out from deep
Next game: @ Minnesota Timberwolves on Jan.12 @ 7PM CDT