Thunder Clinch Season Series, Beat Blazers 120-111
The Oklahoma City Thunder (37-19) defeated the Portland Trail Blazers (33-23) by a final score of 120-111 on Monday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The win was Oklahoma City’s fourth in a row and 11th out of the last 12. Paul George and Russell Westbrook shared the historic spotlight in the win, with Westbrook achieving his NBA-record tenth straight triple-double and George recording a 47-point triple-double of his own. The Thunder victory clinched the season series against the Blazers, as OKC holds a 3-0 edge over their division rival in 2018-19.
Similar to Saturday night’s contest in Houston, George was the Thunder’s primary offensive force in the first quarter. George went 7-of-9 from the field, including 3-of-3 from the three, totaling 17 points in the opening frame. Billy Donovan was forced to dig deep into his already razor-thin rotation (Jerami Grant and Dennis Schroder were out) after Terrance Ferguson picked up his third foul with just under five minutes remaining. Rookie wing Deonte Burton responded with two three-pointers, including a three as the buzzer sounded, putting the Thunder up 36-26 after one.
The Thunder received a major contribution from an unusual suspect in the second, as Raymond Felton was thrust into action with Schroder being away from the team tonight due to a personal matter. Felton appeared on December 30 in Dallas, and he took full advantage of his opportunity tonight. The former Tar Heel scored 15 points in the second, going 6-of-7 from the field, including 3-of-3 from downtown. The Thunder defense looked like its usual self in the first half, holding Blazers guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to a combined 16 points on 5-of-25 from the field, including 1-of-8 from beyond the arc. Felton’s third three-pointer came as a result of Westbrook’s block on Lillard, leading to the transition three. As a whole, Oklahoma City’s defense held the Blazers to a 33.3 field goal percentage in the half, taking a 68-49 lead with them at the break.
The Blazers slowly chipped away at their double-digit deficit after halftime, using a pair of 9-2 runs to pull within 12 points midway through the third. The Thunder offense was nonexistent in the quarter, scoring just 19 points on 21.7 percent shooting from the field. Portland closed the quarter on a 10-0 run after Seth Curry’s and-one with 26 seconds remaining. The Blazers outscored the Thunder 33-19 in the quarter, and OKC led 87-82 going into the fourth.
Fourth Quarter P started things off for the Thunder in the final frame, scoring six straight points on and-one along with a three-pointer to put the Thunder up nine with 10:30 to go. George later capped off a 9-3 OKC run after his layup put Oklahoma City up 106-92 at the 5:34 mark. With the game essentially in hand, the Thunder all-stars went to work on putting the finishing touches on a historic night at the ‘Peake. With Westbrook needing his 10h and final assist to clinch his NBA record tenth-straight triple-double, the Brodie found his All-NBA teammate for his eighth three-pointer of the night, sealing the historic triple-double with 3:52 remaining in the game.
Looking for a little history of his own, George asked Westbrook to return the favor by hitting his first three-pointer of the night, providing George his tenth assist and first triple-double of the season with 52 seconds on the clock. It was a night we won’t soon forget in ThunderLand.
MVPG: If you thought Saturday’s performance in Houston was special, you had another thing coming tonight. PG had his best performance of the season, and quite possibly his career, as he amassed a 47-point-triple-double. Thunder faithful are no strangers to this sort of stat line, it’s just peculiar seeing it from someone other than Westbrook. In total, George tied his season-high with 47 points (15/26 FG, 8/13 3P, 9/11 FT) to go with 12 rebounds, 10 assists, and two steals. I understand that folks in Milwaukee and Houston will probably disagree, but the guy playing the best basketball on planet earth resides in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Historic Brodie: Ten straight triple-doubles. It’s only fitting the Brodie shatters this record, being that his career is already deeply intertwined with the triple-double. When it’s all said and done, Westbrook will likely have the most triple-doubles in NBA history and tonight’s record-breaking performance will certainly be included in his Hall-of-Fame introduction.
Burton’s Burst: Tonight had a “Next Man Up” feel to it with Schroder and Grant absent from the lineup, and Deonte Burton was the hero the Thunder needed. Burton was impactful on both ends of the floor, especially with his defense. In the third quarter, Burton’s denial at the rim on Blazers big man Myles Leonard was special. In total, Burton recorded 18 points (7/9 FG, 3/5 3P, 1/2 FT) and two blocks in 26 minutes of action. He was a +7 off the bench.
Captain Thicc: Thicc Daddy (Raymond Felton) made his first appearance in over a month and he sure didn’t disappoint. Felton’s entire production came in the second quarter as the Thunder were putting a double-digit beatdown on Portland. In the quarter, Felton scored 15 points on 6-of-7 from the field, including 3-of-3 from downtown. He was exhausted heading into halftime:
This Feels Oddly Familiar: With the Thunder leading by as many as 20 points, this felt like a game where OKC could bust wide open. Instead, the Thunder were given a taste of their own medicine, this time being on the receiving end of a third-quarter comeback from the opposition. With the Blazers trailing by 19 at the break, the Thunder allowed Portland to make it a two-possession game heading into the fourth. Great win, but not a flawless victory.
Ocean’s 11-of-12: Remember when the sky was falling in mid-January after the Thunder dropped five of six? Me neither. This team has reached a new level since their skid last month, becoming one of the NBA’s best three-point shooting teams. The defense has slipped a tad, but who cares when they’re shooting like this?! The Thunder are rolling as they head to the All-Star break, with wins over Portland (twice), Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Houston during this streak. Is there any way we can skip the All-Star break and just keep playing?