Observations from the Thunder’s 109-95 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden on Tuesday night:
- This was one of the best all-around games Russell Westbrook has had. He finished with 32 points and could have threatened 50 had he come down with a case of tunnel vision. He was 16 for 26 from the field and easily could have taken a half-dozen more shots had he not looked for open teammates. Westbrook blew past defenders, but studied the entire court rather than focusing solely on the rim. This truly was one of the more enjoyable performances out of the 23-year-old.
- He had eight assists, three rebounds, three steals and two measly turnovers. Imagine him with a 4-to-1 assist-turnover ratio in every game. Scary.
- Westbrook had eight points, four assists and two steals in a breathtaking first-quarter performance. He would have had five assists had Serge Ibaka not missed a bunny.
- The Thunder is 8-0 when three players score at least 20 points, as was the case Tuesday with Westbrook (32), Kevin Durant (25) and James Harden (21).
- During a first-quarter steal and breakaway, Westbrook was ahead of the pack, but slowed to deliver an assist to a trailing Durant for a dunk, just as he did two days earlier in a convincing win against the Miami Heat. This is becoming a habit for Westbrook, who did the same for Ibaka in the second quarter Tuesday. Presumably, this will diminish Westbrook’s reputation for being selfish and also will help extinguish the alleged rivalry between Westbrook and Durant that is often portrayed among national media. Then again, probably not.
- Beautiful town Portland, even when it’s cloudy, drizzling and in the low 50s.
- Durant constantly speaks of not forcing anything, picking his spots, making quick decisions and doing so with confidence – whether it’s shooting, passing, rebounding, defending, whatever. No matter what aspect Durant is concentrating on, it all seems to be reflected in his shooting. On Tuesday, his velvet shooting touch was there from the outset. When Durant’s shooting stroke is in rhythm, everything else seems to flow smoothly. Against the Blazers, Durant shot 10 for 14 from the field, had six rebounds and two steals.
- Westbrook and Durant weren’t flawless. Westbrook went 0 for 3 from the free-throw line and 0 for 3 from 3-point range and Durant had five turnovers.
- Before Tuesday’s game, Durant spoke of how confident he and his teammates have felt lately. “Just have fun, man. Just have fun,” Durant said. “We lost a few games there after the All-Star break and we were panicking just a tiny bit, but the important thing is to relax, have fun and that’s what we’ve been doing lately.”
- Ibaka had six blocks, many coming at clutch moments. He’s drawing “oohs” and “aahs” on the road in the same manner of the Big Three.
- Even though the 20-minute limit has been lifted on Thabo Sefolosha, he played 22 minutes, 12 seconds after early foul trouble. Truthfully, he didn’t need to play any more minutes given OKC’s domination. And if the guy isn’t needed, rest is always the best alternative.
- OKC led 32-18 after the first quarter, during which it shot 65 percent (13 for 20) from the field, outrebounded the Blazers 14-9, had seven assists, three blocks, two steals and held Portland to 26.1-percent shooting from the floor. Not much more you could ask for to start a game – especially on the road in a tough arena.
- With 35 seconds left in the first half and the Blazers trailing 65-44 after another open jumper from Durant, a noticeable chorus of boos came from the sellout crowd of 20,626. It’s no easy feat to make the crowd boo the home team in the Rose Garden.
- The Thunder is now 4-0 with Derek Fisher, with a homecoming against the Lakers up next on Thursday at 9:30 p.m. on TNT. Portland fans are well-acquainted with Fisher, who was booed with authority when he entered the game with 4:13 left in the first quarter.
- Fisher rattled in his first 3-point attempt of the night, but three more shots rattled in and out. The 16-year veteran is shooting just 22.7 percent (5 for 22) from the field with OKC. His misses againstMinnesotaweren’t even close, but now at least have a chance to go in. The more comfortable Fisher becomes, the better his shooting touch appears to be getting.
- A Royal Ivey sighting tonight. He played 12 minutes, five seconds. Ivey deserves more minutes. At the moment, I like him more than Fisher. Perhaps in time, Fisher will clearly be the obvious choice off the bench – but not right now. Not to me, anyway.
- At halftime of Sunday night’s game against Miami, a couple’s quick-change act received a standing ovation at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The same act played Tuesday night in Portland and received another warm reception. Evidently this condensed season of back-to-backs includes halftime shows.
- Up next: at LA Lakers on Thursday.