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Thunder 103, Blazers 83

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: April 12, 2013 at 6:46 pm •  Published: March 24, 2013

Nuggets from my notebook from Sunday’s win over the Blazers.

  • How about that finish? It was a 15-0 run the Thunder ended the game on to turn what was a nip-and-tuck affair for much of the night into a 20-point blowout. Believe it or not, this game was still tied with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter.
  • Portland scored its final points with exactly six minutes left in the game. That’s incredible.
  • This was one of those solid team wins. Five OKC players scored in double digits, led by Kevin Durant’s game-high 24 points. Russell Westbrook controlled the pace with 21 points, nine assists and only two turnovers. Serge Ibaka supplied a terrific second half of scoring and defense. Kevin Martin scored off the bench. Reggie Jackson offered his usual all-around impact. Kendrick Perkins helped shut down regular Thunder killer LaMarcus Aldridge. Nick Collison was Nick Collison. Even Hasheem Thabeet provided some nice plays in his nine minutes.
  • Scott Brooks: “Everybody did their job when they got into the game and made winning basketball plays.”
  • The Thunder trailed 47-45 at halftime. OKC outscored Portland 58-36 in the second half. The Blazers shot 51.4 percent in the first half. They shot 31 percent in the final 24 minutes.
  • It looked like it was going to be one of those nights for the Thunder initially. And not in a good way. Six of the first seven shots were awful. All six originated in the post, two for Durant, two for Westbrook, two for Perk. That was the offense. No ball movement. Just dump it down and see what happens. The results weren’t pretty. Even the two that the Thunder made in that opening stretch weren’t the best looks — a one-legged Durant fadeaway and a Perk hook.
  • Old friend Eric Maynor got a nice ovation (sort of) when he checked in for the first time with 3:34 left in the first quarter. It was weird. It was a slow applause, almost like Thunder heads forgot he played here. Maybe it was a result of how deep he was buried at the end of the bench for his final two months in town.
  • Maynor on his return: “It was just good to see all of those guys. It felt good for the crowd to clap for me when I checked in. I had some good memories here. I wish we could have got the win, but other than that it was cool.”
  • What’s up with Thabeet’s hair? He’s turning into the new Andrew Bynum with all these styles.
  • I challenge anyone who contends that Jackson is not a point guard to watch his fast break bounce pass to a streaking Westbrook and tell me he’s not. I’ve laid out this challenge in recent days. I don’t mind doing it again and again. Tonight’s happened with 2:39 remaining in the period. It capped a 13-0 run.
  • At the end of the first quarter, the Blazers had made seven shots. They had five turnovers.
  • The Thunder scored 17 points off turnovers. The Blazers mustered just two off OKC’s giveaways.
  • Derek Fisher manned the backup point guard spot to start the second quarter, which did only two things: nothing on the court and led to the following nuggets from my notebook throughout the rest of the evening.
  • This was a classic example of Fisher stealing minutes from Jackson. A classic example. In my last recap in this space, I amended my claim that Fisher was taking minutes from Jackson. But tonight, he did. Jackson was on the bench at the start of the second while Fisher inexplicably was in the game.
  • At halftime, Fisher had played 7 minutes, 5 seconds. Jackson had played 3 minutes, 15 seconds.
  • Fisher then checked in for the final 2:53 of the third quarter. Jackson had not gotten in and did not get in for the third period. More minutes Fisher took from Jackson. But when Fisher entered, the Thunder led by two and closed the quarter on a 12-7 run to take an seven-point lead into the fourth. It’s quite likely Brooks would justify Fisher’s existence in the game at that point — over other qualified candidates — by pointing to how the scoreboard moved…like it had anything at all to do with Fisher. Just in case you didn’t see the game, uh, it didn’t.
  • Derek Fisher: zero points, one rebound, one assist, zero steals, 0-for-2 shooting, 0-for-1 from 3 in 15 minutes, 24 seconds.
  • Reggie Jackson: six points, four rebounds, six assists, two steals, 2-for-6 shooting (one was a halfcourt fling), 0-for-2 from 3 in 15 minutes, 15 seconds.
  • That’s called data.
  • Others would call it results.
  • What’s more absurd? Fisher playing 15 minutes, 24 seconds while Jackson played 15 minutes, 15 seconds? Or Fisher playing 15 minutes, 24 seconds while Thabo Sefolosha played 19 minutes, 15 seconds?
  • How’s this for more insanity: Jackson played three first-half minutes after assembling his best two games in a Thunder uniform in two of the last three contests.
  • Know something else. Who should know better than the Thunder what type of players Maynor struggles against? Yet Brooks thought it best to trot out Fisher to match up with Maynor instead of a much more athletic Jackson? C’mon man.
  • I’m telling you. Soon, the justification will be Jackson is getting fourth-quarter minutes and that’s what matters most. It’s crap. Just like with James Harden. Why wouldn’t you want your best players out there as much as possible?
  • On that note, I want to be clear. I have nothing against Fisher. I just don’t understand why Brooks is playing him over other qualified candidates. I will never understand it.
  • Fisher will hit a big shot at some point in the playoffs and the Thunder will feel vindicated. Watch.
  • I shudder a little every time Brooks says there’s only so many minutes when discussing Jackson’s playing time, especially when he says there are only 12 or 13 behind Westbrook. I want to scream PLAY HIM AT THE 2, WHERE YOU’VE FOUND MINUTES FOR FISH! But I guess that wouldn’t be professional.
  • Jackson’s two fourth-quarter finishes at the rim tonight. Who else on the team outside of Westbrook and, maybe, Durant could do that?
  • Brooks was asked after the game his level of trust in Jackson today versus two or three months ago. Brace yourselves. “I think he’s improving, there’s no question,” Brooks said. “He still has a lot of things that he will continue to get better at. But I think he’s done a good job of working with our coaches and improving day to day. But he’s in a good position. He’s on a good team. And he’s going to get better but he’s not going to get a lot of time right now. But I think what he’s done with his time he’s made the most of it and he’s going to continue to improve. Just playing behind Russell there’s not a lot of minutes. I’ve said it many times but the minutes that he’s had he’s done well with them.”
  • Before the game, Brooks was asked yet again about what Fisher brings over guys like Jackson and Jeremy Lamb. This time, he was asked specifically “outside of intangibles like toughness and leadership and that type of stuff, what is it that you like about him on the floor as opposed to some of the younger guys like (DeAndre) Liggins and Lamb. Hope you’re still bracing yourselves. “Well experience. You can’t get that unless you have it. It’s something that you can’t go to the store and (say) ‘I’m going to buy five championships and 17 years in the league.’ He gives us experience. He just knows where to be and how to do it and how to do it on the fly. And he has a good working relationship with the guys on the court and they have a lot of respect for him. So there are a lot of intangibles. He hasn’t shot the ball as well as he would like and as well as we would like. But when you only shoot three or four times a game, you can have one or two games of not making a shot and that’s going to hurt your percentage. You don’t have a lot of shots. That’s why I don’t judge players (on stats) that play 12 minutes or under because you go 1-for-3 you’re a 33 percent shooter.”
  • If you’re scoring at home, Fisher is now 0-for-14 in the last five games.
  • Not sure how to wrap up this rant, so I’ll just say Will Barton has got to be the skinniest guy in the league.
  • When J.J. Hickson banked in a buzzer-beating jumper to give Portland a 47-45 halftime lead, it had the potential to be a death sentence for the Thunder. Coming into tonight the Thunder was 47-7 when leading at the half but just 4-12 when trailing at the half.
  • Surprisingly, the Thunder hasn’t been tied at halftime all season.
  • The first two jumpers Ibaka made in the third quarter were the type of smooth, rhythmic shots that make you wonder why on earth that guy has so many nights where he gets only five or six attempts.
  • Ibaka in the first half tonight: zero shot attempts.
  • Terry Stotts is an animated guy on the sidelines.
  • In the first half, when Blazers center Myers Leonard knocked Fisher to the floor on a ball screen, Stotts screamed to one ref: “That’s a rookie versus a 35-year-old. A 40-year-old!” I’m not really sure what his point was but it was funny.
  • Another fan made a $20,000 halfcourt shot tonight. This time Durant, upon request, met him at halfcourt and hugged him to the ground. The fan happens to be a sports anchor in Springfield, Missouri.
  • Durant: “He called me out there and I’m glad he made it, man. When it left his hands it looked like it was short but it went straight in. I was happy for him. And then as I turned around he was calling me over so I had to run out there.”
  • Up next. Washington on Wednesday.

-DM-

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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