After 23 lead changes and 16 ties, the Oklahoma City Thunder was able to walk out of Portland with a 129-121 overtime victory over the Blazers.
After a slew of slow starts lately, the Thunder kicked off this one in a much sharper fashion. Russell Westbrook started off the game hot making 5-6 (83.3%) from the field–including 2-2 (100.0%) from 3–for 13 points to go along with 3 rebounds and an assist, and Paul George added in 7 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Defensively, the Thunder did a pretty job at holding the Blazers to just 11-30 (36.7%) from the floor, but too much fouling at the end of the period gave Portland a chance to get back into it. Jusuf Nurkic was a killer for Portland as he poured in 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists, and Damian Lillard added 8 points and 3 assists. After 12 minutes of play, the Thunder held a narrow 31-30 lead over the Blazers.
The Thunder maintained their lead for the first 5 minutes of the second quarter right as Russell Westbrook checked back in to hit another shot. The Blazers found some quick momentum, however, as a 9-0 run put Portland on top 46-40 for the first time of the night.
Jerami Grant hit a three off a pass from Westbrook on the next possession to end the run, and the Thunder was able to cut the deficit to 49-48 off a Terrance Ferguson three.
At that point, drama ensued as Jusuf Nurkic apparently tripped Russell Westbrook running up the court. Westbrook reacted by shoving Nurkic to the ground. After reviewing the play, Westbrook was assessed a flagrant-1, and Nurkic was given a technical. In the aftermath, Portland held a 50-49 lead with 3:15 left in the first half.
At this point, a barrage of scoring was unleashed for both teams, partially due to an excessive number of foul calls leading to free throws. Paul George pushed his halftime scoring to 18 points, and Damian Lillard stayed hot as he led all scorers with 21 points in the half. As the halftime buzzer sounded, the Blazers led the Thunder 61-58.
The Blazers extended their lead to 63-58 as they scored on the first possession of the second half, but the Thunder answered with a 6-0 run to take over the lead at 64-63. Portland answered with 4 straight points, but OKC came back with 4 of their own. With a 68-67 Thunder lead and 7:34 left in the third quarter, the Blazers needed a timeout.
Damian Lillard continued to find his way to the basket, and the Blazers were able to hit some shots from deep–and even take a momentary lead–but the Thunder kept answering. Russell Westbrook answered a three by Rodney Hood with one of his own, and when the crowd did not react, he put his hand to his ear and asked Portland fans where the boos were at. They promptly gave him an answer, but that didn’t bother OKC as they pulled ahead 79-77 with 2:36 to go in the third.
Both teams battled back and forth for the remainder of the period, but it was the Thunder who ended the third quarter with an 85-83 lead.
The fourth quarter was nothing short of excitement. The Thunder came out strong and just a few minutes in pushed to their largest lead of the night at 94-87 with 9:33 to go. That only sparked a 13-4 run by Portland, though, to give the Blazers a 100-98 lead. The Thunder answered with 4 straight points thanks to some solid defense, and Portland needed a timeout as OKC led 102-100 with just 4:48 to go.
Out of the timeout, Damian Lillard scored 5 straight points to put Portland back on top by 3, but Russell Westbrook answered with a 3 of his own to tie it up at 105-105. The Thunder and the Blazers traded baskets all the way to the end of the quarter, but not before more drama broke out as Paul George and Jusuf Nurkic got into it a bit. The result was a technical for each, which ejected Nurkic from the game. Shortly after that, the two teams prepped for overtime as the final buzzer sounded with a score of 113-113.
The Blazers scored the first bucket of overtime to take the temporary lead, but it was all Oklahoma City the rest of way. Russell Westbrook erupted in overtime to score 8 of the Thunder’s 16 points, and coupled with OKC’s defense, including an incredible block by Terrance Ferguson, the Blazers could not overcome the deficit. In the end, OKC came out on top 129-121.
Thunder Player of the Game
Russell Westbrook is tonight’s player of the game for a couple of reasons. First off, he got off to a strong start in the first quarter, helping the Thunder to a strong start, which has been a struggle lately. Secondly, despite struggling at different points in the game, he continued to play his brand of basketball and get things done. Time and time again he would turn the ball over or lose his man on defense, but time and time again he would answer with a clutch play. With 2.9 seconds left in regulation and a chance to win the game, Westbrook lost the ball and let it go out of bounds. He made it up for in overtime, though, as he hit several big shots and gave his team all the momentum they needed to finish strong.
Friday Night SEGABABA
Next up, the Thunder has a matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night in the second game of a back-to-back. This is the final matchup of the season between the two teams, and OKC has the 2-1 advantage. The Clippers defeated the Thunder in Los Angeles early in the season, but the Thunder was able to win both games played in OKC. Tip-off is set for 9:30 PM CT and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma. It will also be broadcast on the radio at WWLS 98.1 FM.
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