Thunder 110, Blazers 108
Nuggets from my notebook from Friday’s win over Portland.
- Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook scored the final 18 points for the Thunder.
- Here’s how entertaining this game was: there were 14 ties and 16 lead changes.
- And here’s how impressive of a closeout it was by OKC: the lead changed teams only once in the fourth quarter.
- After Durant’s fourth straight jumper in the final four minutes, he shouted to his teammates, ‘This is my house!” Always modest, Durant denied it after the game. But he earned the right to scream such a statement after his fourth-quarter performance. Said Portland coach Nate McMillan, “Durant made All-Star plays. He made important points.”
- Durant desperately needed a clutch performance like this. In the fourth quarters and overtime in the Thunder’s first seven games, KD averaged just 5.4 points on just 12 of 36 (33.3 percent) shooting from the field. When I asked him about the difference tonight, he replied with a candid answer. “I got a little bit of rest at the start of the fourth,” Durant said. “So I felt good coming in.” Durant’s minutes have become a bit of an issue to start the season. He entered tonight averaging a league-leading 42.3 minutes and recently admitted that he could have used more rest in Sunday’s loss to Boston.
- This was a big win for the Thunder. Sounds a little silly to say that on Nov. 12. But keep in mind that division winners automatically earn a top four seed and home-court advantage in the playoffs. And two early victories over a division heavyweight like Portland can come back into play at the end of the season. When the dust starts settling on conference standings, and tiebreakers and such may be needed to determine playoff seeding, we could look back on these first two games as being pivotal victories.
- Was I the only one who had flashbacks to Carmelo Anthony when Rudy Fernandez hoisted that 3 from the left corner? I didn’t think so.
- Westbrook’s 36 points are a new career-high. He was unstoppable tonight, adding seven rebounds, seven assists, three steals, two blocks and only two turnovers. What is becoming more and more impressive is that while speaking to reporters or interacting with his teammates after performances like this, Westbrook doesn’t give off anything that suggests he thinks it’s a big deal.
- Durant and Westbrook became the franchise’s first set of players to score 30 points in back-to-back games since Dale Ellis and Xavier McDaniel did it in April 1989. And that sounds quite impressive until you’re told Monta Ellis and Corey Maggette were the last teammates to do it for any team, pulling the feat in three straight games in January of last season. Damn Nellie ball.
- For as good of a win as this was, at some point the Thunder’s defense has got to show up for four quarters. But what we saw out of it in the fourth quarter was pretty darn impressive. The one complaint you could have in the final period was that the Thunder allowed too many offensive rebounds in the fourth. Aside from that, OKC held Portland to 7-for-19 shooting, forced three turnovers, two of them steals, and blocked three shots. Brandon Roy went just 2-for-8 in the fourth.
- Here’s what coach Scott Brooks had to say about the fourth quarter D. “You want to be a great defense for 48 minutes. But you want to be a special defender in the last 12 minutes. That’s what it takes to win games in this league. But we have to be consistent. There’s always another level that we want to get to and tonight we did.
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