4 min read

Lillard goes wild as Portland drops the Thunder, 115-110


I gotta tell you, I really thought this one was over when Andre Roberson — yes, for real — hit a corner 3 with 3:19 left to put the Thunder up 103-95.

Really, I thought once they erased Portland’s 10-point lead in the third quarter and took control for basically the entire fourth, it was over.

But, man. Damian Lillard happened.

The play-by-play is kind of absurd to look at:

  • 3:06, Lillard 3, 103-98
  • 2:38, Lillard 3, 105-101
  • 2:11, Lillard 3, 107-104
  • 2:00, Crabbe 3, 108-107
  • 1:31, Lillard 3, 110-110
  • 1:15, Lillard 3, 113-110

Lillard then hit two free throws to seal it with 1.2 seconds left. So to recap, he scored 17 points in three minutes. The Blazers, scored 20. The Thunder, as you’ll notice there in the play-by-play, were actually doing a nice job of answering offensively. They scored 10 points over the final three minutes, which is pretty good. Problem was the Blazers scored 20.

There’s no denying the Thunder’s perimeter defense was poor, and there’s no denying that’s been an ongoing issue at times for this team, but at the same time, the shooting show Lillard put on was just something else. A couple, he shook lose for and had nice looks. But I just went back and re-watched them all and three appeared to be really well contested. He’s just a great shooter that was scalding hot and knocked down shots. Like the go-ahead one with 1:15 left. That was a pull-up in transition that he hit right over Roberson. Incredible shot.

(Something Billy Donovan talked a lot about in preseason, though, wasn’t just 3-point defense, it was limiting opponents from getting a volume 3s. And the Blazers put up 44 (!) 3-pointers in the game, and hit 19. Both of those are records against the Thunder. So, whoops.)

I’ve seen a lot of Thunder games over the last eight years, but I’m not sure I’ve seen one like that. That was remarkable. I know some are looking for a meltdown, and I was feeling it in the third quarter when they went down 10. If they had gone on to trail throughout the fourth and lost by six or something, that would’ve merited plenty of harrumphing. But the way this happened, I’m not sure you can even be mad. Lillard was just nonsensical in those last three minutes. Sure, sure, better defense and all. I don’t disagree. But at some point, a guy has to hit the shot, and Lillard was simply unreal.

The big picture here, though, is a tight win over the Lakers on Friday where Lou Williams dropped 44, including 23 in the fourth, and now a tight loss to the Blazers where Lillard torched them. That’s certainly disconcerting. The Thunder have simply failed to find a consistent standard of play, one where you can reliably put them in the Warriors/Spurs/Cavs category. You start thinking they’re getting there, and then this happens.


  • Something that’s not fun to say: Kevin Durant had zero points in the fourth quarter (three attempts). That’s after he had 14 in the third, and had the look. He was throwing fire himself, but in the fourth after he checked back in with 8:26 remaining, did a lot of watching.
  • Now, a couple things there: The Thunder were scoring, and moving the ball, and playing good offense. This is what’s so annoying about this “move the ball! play like the Spurs!” stuff. The Thunder kind of did that in the final six minutes. Durant shared it, they found open men, and they executed pretty well. The people that will say “how could Durant not take a shot!?!?!” probably were’t paying attention to that stuff. Because what would you rather? Mid-post isos for KD? Because the Thunder have done plenty of that stuff in the past.
  • A couple critical plays were Westbrook’s charge with a minute left, and then Ibaka getting blocked with 30 seconds left (set up on a nice look from Durant). The charge was certainly debatable, and Ibaka getting blocked there was frustrating because he had such a clear look at the bucket.
  • I’ve already seen some blame pointed at Ibaka tonight. He had 14 on 5-7 shooting, which included 4-4 from 3, plus three rebounds. But I thought his defense was terrific, especially in the second half. Or maybe you could blame the Blazers’ 3-point barrage on him, because they completely quit trying to attack the rim because of Ibaka.
  • Really liked the lineup to start the fourth: Payne, Waiters, Roberson, Ibaka and Kanter. Nice adjustment by Donovan to have two staters with that group.
  • I’ll go ahead and compliment Durant for his trust in a big spot swinging the ball to a wide open Roberson, but then again, it only worked out because Roberson hit the shot. Was still the right pass, though.
  • Steven Adams played an almost perfect game (17 points on 6-6 shooting, 10 rebounds), except for that really dumb pass at the end of the third. With two seconds left he tried to throw a bullet ahead, but it was picked off by McCollum, who hit a 3 at the buzzer. Instead of an 85-77 lead headed to the fourth, it was 85-80. Turns out, that 3 was just the beginning.
  • The biggest mechanical issue I see with Andre Roberson’s shot is he often drifts just slightly on his left at his release. When he gets straight up and down, he’s not too bad.
  • How about that bounce pass to Westbrook for an and-1 from Dion Waiters in the third? That was spectacular.
  • “Steven Adams is just beautiful right now.” — Michael Cage out of context
  • Cameron Payne is good at hitting end of quarter corner 3s.
  • Adams and Enes Kanter played together a few minutes in the first quarter. First time they have since the opener against the Spurs.
  • This is second-guessing, but it feels like Donovan got caught watching the Blazers’ comeback, rather than making a lineup change to try and slow it down. He stuck with Adams and Ibaka together, instead of going with a small group with Waiters or Singler in there to try and add some extra perimeter help.
  • Westbrook was a rebound short of a triple-double: 25 points, nine rebounds and 15 assists.
  • Overlooked stat: The Thunder missed 10 free throws. Westbrook missed two, Waiters two, Kanter two, Adams four.
  • It is hard not to think about this display tonight, and think about how it might look against the Warriors. Has a team ever made 30 3s in a game?

Next up: At the Wolves on Tuesday