The Thunder will face Rookie of the Year front-runner Damian Lillard on the heels of his career-high, 37-point performance in Oakland, the town where he played high school ball.
Lillard's superlative effort in front of family and friends wasn't enough as Golden State snapped the Portland Trail Blazers' four-game winning streak with a 103-97 victory on Friday night at Oracle Arena.
Tipoff between the Thunder (28-8) and Blazers (20-16) is at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Rose Garden.
Lillard shot 15 for 22 from the field with a career-high seven 3-pointers and also had six rebounds and four assists. He had 29 points in the second half — 17 in the fourth quarter — in a comeback effort staged six miles away from where he played at Oakland High School.
“It's bittersweet because everything I did was for us to win the game,” Lillard said after the game. “I got caught up in just competing and trying to win the game so, like I said, it's bittersweet.”
MIX AND MATCH
Thunder coach Scott Brooks continues to experiment with various lineups. One qualifies as an all-guard combination featuring Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, DeAndre Liggins, Reggie Jackson and Kevin Durant, whom Brooks said he will utilize at every position except center.
The determining factor on whether to use this combination is defense, not offense.
“We have guys who can play multiple positions and guard multiple positions,” Brooks said. “That's how I really look at it, ‘Can they guard multiple positions?' It's not just about the offensive end because you can throw anybody on offense and try to work it out. If you can't play offense, you try to hide him in the corner. If he can play, you try to feature him. But defensively, you can't hide guys.”
Westbrook excelled in Friday night's 116-101 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center with 27 points and 10 assists for his 15th double-double of the season. He shot just 1 for 5 from 3-point range, however.
Before the game, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said Westbrook becomes “almost unguardable” when his 3-point shot is falling.
A story circulated that Lakers great Kobe Bryant gave Durant and Westbrook an earful last summer while playing on the Olympic team and proclaimed the Lakers as the team to beat after adding point guard Steve Nash and center Dwight Howard to their roster.
Is that true?
“No,” Durant said. “He called it, though. I gave him some credit. He called that one. … I didn't believe him. But when it went down, man, I was like, ‘Wow, man. That was a great call.' He knows it's a long year. He knows chemistry and camaraderie are a big part of this league. He was real cool about just worrying about the Olympic team and just playing the game.”
Durant took a playful dig and said of Bryant: “I guess he makes the decisions over there in LA with the Lakers.”
TRAIL BLAZERS TIP-INS
Portland is coached by former Oklahoma standout Terry Stotts (1976-80). … The Blazers were 15 for 43 on 3-pointers on Friday, a record number of attempts against the Warriors. … Portland currently is the No. 8 playoff seed in the Western Conference and trails OKC by eight games in the Northwest Division. … The Rose Garden has long been one of the most difficult arenas for road teams. The Blazers are 13-4 at home this season.