The Oklahoma City Thunder (25-13) broke their Portland curse on Friday night at the Moda Center, beating the Trail Blazers (22-17) by a final score of 111-109 — OKC’s first win in the City of Roses since 2014. Paul George erupted for 37 points and eight rebounds in the victory. Russell Westbrook added 31 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists, as the Thunder erased an 11-point second quarter deficit to win their third straight.
The Thunder return to action on Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Arena, taking on Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards at 6:00 PM CST. That game will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma.
George & Westbrook:
Slow Start. This game had all the makings of a Thunder letdown, as OKC stumbled out of the gate and into an 11-point second quarter hole. Jusuf Nurkic supplied the firepower early, scoring 12 points in the first quarter and dominating his matchup with Steven Adams. Despite 21 first half points from Paul George, Portland bullied the Thunder down low (Adams was scoreless through 24 minutes) en route to a 62-57 lead at the break.
Third Quarter Turning Point. Westbrook and George took control in the third quarter, combining for 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting as the Thunder outscored Portland 36-25 to take a six-point lead into the fourth. The Blazers held a 74-68 lead at the 6:34 mark when Billy Donovan turned to a small ball lineup of Westbrook-Schroder-Ferguson-George-Adams. That group was a +4 and had the game tied 87-87 when Adams checked out with 1:27 to go in the third.
Hanging On. Schroder and the bench unit sparked the Thunder in the fourth yet again, racing out to a 12-4 start and forcing Portland into an early timeout. Westbrook (3/10 4Q) and George (0/3 4Q) cooled tremendously once they returned, as the Blazers went nearly seven minutes without a field goal — but kept themselves alive with seven points from the free throw line until a C.J. McCollum jumper made it 109-105 OKC with 1:07 to play.
After a turnover by George on the ensuing possession, Schroder fouled Damian Lillard on a three-point attempt — giving him the opportunity to cut Portland’s deficit to one. However, he made two of three to keep OKC in front by two. Westbrook missed a jumper on the Thunder’s next trip down the floor, but despite getting two looks on the other end, Portland couldn’t capitalize. George went on to hit two free throws with 4.3 seconds remaining to ice it.
MVPG. George led the way with 37 points — his second straight outing with 37. He scored 14 in the pivotal third quarter and hit 5-of-9 from long range on the evening. He’s now scored 36+ on six different occasions this season and each of those efforts came on the road.
The Brodie. Westbrook finished with 31 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists — shooting 13-of-28 from the field and 0-of-2 from downtown. The 3-of-10 shooting in the fourth quarter was rough in an otherwise solid outing. Can always live with two attempts from deep. Mid-range needs a lot of work. Free throws (5-of-6) are getting better.
Here’s his shot chart against Portland:
The Role Players. With Steven Adams struggling in his matchup with Nurkic, Nerlens Noel stepped up in a big way — contributing 10 points, five rebounds, three steals, and two blocks in 14 minutes of action. Terrance Ferguson recorded just three points in 27 minutes, but played tremendous defense and had a hand in C.J. McCollum scoring just 10 points on 4-of-15 shooting. Schroder scored 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting but scored six on 3-of-5 in the fourth quarter’s opening minutes.
The Other Guys. Lillard led the Blazers with 23 points and eight assists on 7-of-19 shooting. Nurkic added 22 points and eight rebounds. They were joined in double-figures by Al-Farouq Aminu (16), Jake Layman (11), and McCollum (10).