Eric Maynor will play against the Thunder at 6 p.m. Sunday for the first time since he was traded to Portland at the NBA trading deadline last month.
Maynor was a reserve point guard for the Thunder after being acquired from Utah on Dec. 22, 2009. He has quickly found success in Portland as a steady hand behind Rookie of the Year front-runner Damian Lillard.
In 14 games with the Blazers, Maynor is averaging 7.1 points, 3.6 assists, 20.8 minutes and shooting 43.8 percent from the floor.
“It'll be a little different,” Thunder guard Russell Westbrook said of facing his friend and former teammate. “He's got a nice role on their team … but I look forward to it. It should be fun.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Maynor: “Eric is going to have a long, very productive career in this league. He's a great kid. He's a great teammate.”
The Trail Blazers (33-36) have won four of their past six games and are still hoping to make a playoff push in the stretch run of this season.
Portland was 2 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot before Saturday's games and will play eight of its final 12 games at home following Sunday's matchup with the Thunder.
This is the final game of a five-game road trip for the Blazers.
“They're a young and athletic group like us, so we got to contain them,” three-time scoring champ Kevin Durant said. “LaMarcus Aldridge is probably one of the best shooting bigs in the league, and Damian Lillard is having an unbelievable season. We got to put pressure on those guys.”
IBAKA IS BACK
After a combined eight points and eight rebounds in losses to Denver and Memphis, Thunder forward Serge Ibaka had 14 points, 13 rebounds (six offensive) and five blocked shots in Friday night's 97-89 victory at Orlando.
“Serge is very prideful, and I am too about Serge's game,” Brooks said. “I wanted him to play much better. Give us some defensive energy, give us some game-changing shots, and he did that. He blocked four of five shots right at the rim. Those are point-blank layups. … He's only going to get better. He just has to keep playing with that type of force.”
Through 13 games, the Derek Fisher experiment clearly hasn't gone as planned.
Fisher is averaging 3.5 points on just 34.8-percent shooting while playing 13.7 minutes per game. He's contributed 1.1 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game while turning it over 0.5 times on average.
Despite playing the shooting guard position, Fisher has gone scoreless in three straight games and is 0 for 12 from the field (0 for 7 from 3-point range) in his past four contests. He is 8 for 25 3-pointers (32.0 percent) in his 13 appearances and hasn't made a 3-pointer since March 13.
“He hasn't shot the ball well the last few games, but he does so many other things for us,” Brooks said of Fisher. “He just knows how to play. You can't teach that overnight. It's taken many, many years for him to become the player he's become.”
Brooks on what constitutes a must-win: “I have a philosophy (that) every game is a must-win. You have to go out there and do your best and try to win the game, don't take any team for granted, don't take an opponent lightly … We've done a good job. We play every team pretty good.”