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Oklahoma City Thunder hold off pesky Portland 105-99

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Rumors of OKC’s demise may have been greatly exaggerated

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Following a 105-99 Sunday afternoon win over the Portland Trail Blazers, Russell Westbrook's unbridled emotion pulsated throughout the depths of Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Westbrook finished with 42 points, eight assists, and four rebounds. However, no shot from the 6’3 juggernaut loomed larger than his 24-foot dagger to secure consecutive victories for the rejuvenated Oklahoma City Thunder.

Meanwhile, tasked with outperforming the high-scoring duo of Damian Lillard (29 points) and CJ McCollum (19), Oklahoma City received an essential boost from Russ’ running-mate Victor Oladipo.

In a bounce-back performance, Oladipo added 24 points, — ten in the fourth — to bolster Westbrook’s superlative 19-point closing-quarter effort. Overall, the Thunder’s 34-26 finishing spurt proved too much for Portland (22-30) to overcome.

Andre Roberson (14 pts, 11 rbs) along with the reserve tandem of Joffrey Lauvergne (7) and Anthony Morrow (7) added just enough spark to ensure a redemptive outcome in this rematch of division rivals.

Portland has now dropped three of four outings. Mason Plumlee (13) and Allen Crabbe (10) joined the Blazers’ heralded backcourt in double-figure scoring.

While Terry Stotts’ wayward crew shot 10-of-28 from distance, and 19-21 from the charity stripe, Oklahoma City owned the interior.

In a total turnabout from a humbling Dec. 13 setback, OKC outrebounded Portland 56-44, and commanded a hefty +30 advantage in fast break/interior points.

Oklahoma City has evened its season series with Portland 1-1. The Thunder travels to Indiana to face the red-hot Pacers tomorrow night at 7 PM ET.

Thunder Pro’s

  • Victor Oladipo’s 24 point, 13 rebound performance: Against an explosive guard combo, Oladipo came through when most needed.
  • Steven Adams’ interior toughness: The ‘big Kiwi’ set a bruising tone while corralling 13 rebounds.
  • Andre Roberson’s two-way execution: Roberson did a little bit of everything at a high-level clip vs. Portland. His springy drives, and defensive hustle helped keep Portland’s perimeter game in check.
  • Lauvergne/Morrow: Again, these lunch-pail guys picked up the slack in Kanter’s absence. Well done.
  • ‘Fourth-Quarter’ Westbrook/OKC’s fourth-quarter 3 pt shooting: On an overall bad night from deep (4-of-18) the gritty Thunder made them when they counted most.

Thunder Woes

  • Domantas Sabonis’ offensive drought: Domas played 36 minutes, and was +14 plus/minus; however, his rookie wall (0-6 FGM) grew a bit higher. Although, the struggling 20-year-old did show hustle on the boards (6 rebs) while blocking two shots.
  • Cameron Payne’s regression: Following a strong outing vs. Memphis, Payne took two steps back with an 0-of-6 FGA, -4 plus-minus showing this afternoon. Unfortunately, Payne’s inconsistencies may continue to plague the second unit as Semaj Christon accumulates DNP-CD’s.

Star of the Show

  • Victor Oladipo/Westbrook: The Thunder’s starting guards played like an All-Star tandem in outscoring Dame/McCollum 66-48.

In conclusion, Oklahoma City continued its snowballing momentum from Friday night’s huge win over Memphis. The Thunder’s perimeter play, energy, and defensive intensity all combined to bring the team a much-needed victory against a team that had thoroughly defeated them nearly two months prior.

On the upcoming second night of a back-to-back set, the Thunder will need to bottle this momentum for a road clash with Indiana.