Thunder win, extend win streak to six
After earning a 106-90 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder extended their win streak to an NBA-long six games. OKC has now won 10 of 12 games overall. The Thunder is now a perfect 8-0 this season at home against Western Conference opponents.
Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 24 points in just 29 minutes of action. Efficiency ended up being the name of the game for Durant. After scoring just nine points on four attempts in the first half, Durant flipped the switch and had 15 points on 10 attempts in the third quarter. Durant had to be patient in the opening quarter of the Thunder’s previous game as he scored just two points. Once again, he had to be patient as he was openly frustrated with the way the game was being officiated. He was called for his second technical foul of the season after he lifted his arms in the air in the first quarter as he felt he was fouled on a shot attempt and a foul was not called.
Russell Westbrook scored 13 points on just 5-of-15 shooting in the win. The performance put a halt to a string of dominance over Portland. He had averaged 38.5 points on 45.4 percent shooting in four games against Portland last season. Westbrook scored at least 30 points in each of those four contests. Westbrook had also scored 20 or more points in seven consecutive games against the Trail Blazers before Wednesday’s 13-point performance.
The Thunder moved to 4-0 on the season when they have six players score in double figures. Dion Waiters (18), Serge Ibaka (13), Enes Kanter (12), and Steven Adams (11) joined Durant and Westbrook in double-digit scoring.
“When you can have some other guys step up and have other options offensively, I think that always helps,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said after the game.
For Portland, C.J. McCollum scored 24 points and Damian Lillard added 20, but Lillard was held scoreless on 0-for-9 shooting in the second half. Mason Plumlee added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Trail Blazers.
The game essentially fell apart for Portland in the second quarter. They went just 6-of-22 from the field and scored 16 points. To show how sad the state of affairs were for Portland: they had 22 field goal attempts in the period, while OKC had 20 free throw attempts. The Thunder led by as many as 15 points in the period. The saving grace for Portland came in the last three possessions of the quarter as Lillard hit three consecutive 3-point shots. It’s quite a difference when Lillard isn’t drilling 3s on every possession as the lead rapidly jumped back up to 15 early in the third quarter. OKC’s lead in the second half got as large as 25 points.
The Thunder now head on the road on the second night of a back-to-back. That is always a dicey situation. Luckily for the Thunder, they took care of business against the Trail Blazers. Not a single player for OKC logged 30 minutes in the game. Durant played 29:14 minutes of action, while Westbrook played just 26:53 minutes.
- Adams recorded his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds in the Thunder victory. It’s the 12th double-double of his career. It’s really hard to distinguish what was better on Wednesday night: Adams’ all-around performance or his mustache. As someone who struggles to grow facial hair, it pains me to select the on-floor performance.
- Adams was very nonchalant about his performance. “I just got lucky tonight,” Adams said. “That’s pretty much it.”
- Adams and the rest of the Thunder feasted mainly due to the fact that it appeared Portland tried to impersonate local shop, Voodoo Doughnut. There just wasn’t anything in the middle for Portland. It didn’t help the Trail Blazers’ cause that the Thunder entered the game ranked fourth in the league by averaging 45.0 points in the paint per game. To further elaborate, Kanter appeared to be working a lot more in the post compared to recent games. Whether it was Mason Plumee, Ed Davis, or Meyers Leonard, Portland didn’t have anything in terms of rim protection.
- McCollum had a hot start to the game by hitting five of a his first six shots, but noted defensive stopper (heavily implied sarcasm) Dion Waiters held him in check. Andre Roberson didn’t do much in the form of slowing McCollum down. McCollum ended up missing his next seven shots.
- Waiters finished the game with 18 points off the bench. He’s now scored in double figures in seven of his last eight games for OKC. Waiters is most certainly a different player when he’s in attack mode and is playing downhill. The latter point was evident as he got to the free throw line seven times and made five free throws.
- The Thunder have outscored opponents 176-128 in the third quarters during the six-game winning streak. They clearly want to start games well, but the message is carrying over and coming out of the locker room to start the second half. They’re being aggressive, making shots, and dictating the style of play. Those are all ingredients to asserting your dominance over an opponent.
- Kanter attempted the absolute worst full-court shot attempt to end the third quarter. It was wide of the basket by several feet and went nearly 10 rows deep into the stands. All he could do was sheepishly smile as his teammates mocked him heading towards the bench.
- Coming into Wednesday’s matchup against OKC, Portland held the opposition to under 10 3-point field goals in 16 of the past 19 contests (20 times overall). The Trail Blazers also ranked 11th in the NBA in opposing three-point field goal percentage (34.0 percent). OKC missed their first eight long-range attempts and finished the game just 2-of-14 from distance. The Thunder made up for that by shooting 37 free throws and having 48 points in the paint.
- It only lasted for about 23 seconds in the first quarter, but the five on the floor for OKC was a Westbrook-Waiters-Morrow-Durant-Kanter lineup. Easily, the five most skilled scorers for the Thunder on the floor all playing together. It’s hard to imagine that lineup is going to see the light of day with legitimate intentions, but it’s certainly entertaining to see them all together.
- For whatever reason, Portland forward Noah Vonleh felt compelled to wear some shorter than normal shorts Wednesday night. I know that Portland is a serious hot spot for hipster trends, but the look Vonleh was sporting didn’t really feel like it hit the mark. Seriously, who wears shorts like that for basketball? It looked like he was prepping for a 5K more than getting ready for play some professional basketball.
Next up: The back end of a back-to-back on the road at Cleveland.