On Sunday night, the Portland Trail Blazers did what few teams have been able to do against the Thunder this season.
The Blazers held Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Martin under their season scoring averages and sent OKC to the free-throw line just 18 times, which was well under its season average of 27.5 attempts per game.
With less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Portland was dead-even with the Thunder at 65-65 in a building where the home team was 21-2 against Western Conference opponents and 30-5 overall.
All these accomplishments, yet the Blazers still ended up losing 103-83 to OKC before a sellout crowd of 18,203 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Portland (33-37) endured a wicked display of the Thunder (52-19) doing very little wrong in the final 13 1/2 minutes.
OKC outscored the Blazers 38-18 down that final stretch, outshooting the visitors 66.7 percent (12 for 18) to 31.6 percent (6 for 19) from the field in the final period.
With Portland hanging tough and trailing just 88-83 with 6 minutes left, the Thunder closed out the game with a 15-0 run.
Playing their fifth game in seven nights, the Blazers ran out of juice.
“We just didn't have it at the end,” said Portland coach and former Oklahoma standout Terry Stotts. “They're a talented team that creates a lot of problems at both ends of the floor. I don't think the final score is indicative of how the game went, but my hat's off to them. They're a good team.”
The Blazers shot just 31.0 percent in the second half while getting outscored 58-36 by OKC, which shot 60.5 percent from the field after intermission.
This came on the heels of Portland taking a 47-45 lead into halftime after shooting 63.2 percent in the second quarter.
That's when the Thunder turned its defense up a notch, no doubt after some prodding from coach Scott Brooks, who said: “The defense really picked up as the game went along.”
It was Brooks' anger that led to his team pulling away.
With 2:53 left in the third quarter, Brooks picked up his second technical foul of the season after boisterously pleading for referee James Williams to “call a foul.”