OKC Thunder notebook: OKC hoping to avoid third consecutive loss to LaMarcus Aldridge, Blazers

Since 2011, only two teams have beaten the Thunder three times in a season: Denver and the Los Angeles Clippers. Portland has a chance to match that Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
by Anthony Slater Published: January 20, 2014
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photo - Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka (9) defends Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka (9) defends Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Since 2011, only two teams have beaten the Thunder three times in a season: Denver last year and the Clippers two seasons ago.

In the next month, Portland has a pair of chances to become the third, with the first opportunity coming on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.

“We'll be ready,” Kevin Durant said. “It's a fun game, and we looking forward to playing (them) again.”

To reverse the trend and beat the Blazers, OKC has to do a far better job defending LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland's star forward who has had two of his best games of the season against the Thunder.

In an early December win in Portland, Aldridge collected 38 points and 13 rebounds on the Thunder. Then in late December, back in OKC, Aldridge put up 25 and 14. In those two games, Aldridge was an efficient 27-of-51 from the field.

“One of the best power forwards in the game,” Serge Ibaka said. “I really respect him.”

But can Ibaka and the rest of OKC's bigs figure out a better way to defend him?

BROOKS SATISFIED AT THE MIDWAY POINT

The Thunder has hit the mid-point of the season at 31-10, on pace for what would be an OKC-era franchise record 62 wins.

At Monday's practice, coach Scott Brooks was asked what had pleased him most through 41 games.

“Growth,” Brooks said. “I think our team has grown over the last few months. And as a coach, that's what you want to see.”

Specifically, Brooks pointed to his two youngest players, who are both in their first season in an NBA rotation.

“The development of Jeremy (Lamb) and Steven (Adams) have been outstanding,” Brooks said. “And those are areas that we really wanted to work on as the season started.”

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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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