After a tough outing against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, the Portland Trail Blazers were looking to work through their frustrations with the Oklahoma City Thunder on the second night of a game in a row. Oklahoma City entered the Moda Center short of most of their starting lineup. The Blazers lacked patience. The result was a decisive eruption. Portland jumped on the Thunder early, then extended their lead throughout the game, finishing with a 133-85 final margin that became a balm for further injuries.
Eight Blazers, including five off the bench, hit double the numbers in this game, led by CJ McCollum with 20. Portland approached 50% of the shots from the field while keeping the Thunder at 35.3% overall. , 23.5% of the arc.
The Blazers did not start in their best form. Their offense showed cracks. Jusuf Nurkic was a bit slow; Norman Powell and Damian Lillard missed three. But even hitting a few long balls was enough to push them past a completely bewildered Thunder team. Oklahoma City attempted to execute their offense. On the rare occasion that their passes found targets, they scored easily. This rarely happened. Turnovers and broken games were the norm. You could say Portland’s defense was good, but it would be just as accurate to say that the Thunder’s lack of firepower and coordination made everything Portland did better. When the Blazers’ offense heated up in the middle of the period, squash was on. The Thunder only scored 7 field goals in the period compared to Portland’s 13. The Blazers were leading 35-19 after one.
Oklahoma City started hitting shots early in the second period. They could barely miss, scoring right at the edge. This provided modest, but somewhat convincing, evidence that their woes were self-inflicted and not due to Portland’s defensive prowess. On the other side, Powell converted a few layups. But a modest domestic attack was not enough to keep OKC at bay. Scoring freely, the Thunder reduced the lead from 21 to 11 before half-time in the period. Carmelo Anthony ended OKC’s run with some three points, saving his team. This provided enough of a bridge to bring the Blazers back to their starting unit. Despite Lillard’s difficulty in scoring, Powell, CJ McCollum and company still put enough points on the board to make up for any slippage earlier in the quarter. Friendly three-point roadblocks cover a host of evils. The Blazers were leading 65-46 at the half.
Powell came out hot again to start the third period, pushing Portland to a 20-point margin. With such a large lead, the Blazers were playing freely and easily. Jusuf Nurkic ran on both sides with abandon. Lillard and McCollum filmed where and when they wanted. This resulted in a 16-1 run that put the lead up to 30. At around 8:00 am, the Thunder called a time out to reassess the meaning of their lives. In Portland’s next game, Lillard converted an easy layout, which forced OKC to call another quick time-out to bolster their plans. After the ensuing inbounds, Powell stole the ball and converted another layup. At some point, this game ceased to be fair. (Hint: that point could have been when the lead got to 40.) Portland was leading 104-59 at the end of three.
The fourth quarter hardly changed the character of the game. The reserves played the whole frame. Harry Giles III hit two or three. Anfernee Simons and CJ Elleby pushed the ball inside. Oklahoma City also scored, but Portland held the lead 40-45 for most of the period, increasing the final margin to 48 as the game ended.
Stay tuned for the detailed recap with in-depth game analysis!
The score of the box
The Blazers travel to Los Angeles to face the Clippers on Tuesday night at 7:00 a.m. in the Pacific.