Aldridge missed a 20-footer from the top of the key with two seconds left and, after a pair of Jackson free throws, Damian Lillard missed a game-tying three from the corner. A nightmare end to a nightmare night for the Portland stars.
“I just couldn’t throw a rock in a lake tonight,” Aldridge said.
Despite Durant’s aforementioned late-game struggles, he was the main reason OKC was in position to win it.
Durant finished with 36 points and 10 rebounds, making 15 of his 28 shots, but looked a bit gassed at the tail end of his 38 minutes.
Jeremy Lamb added 19 efficient points on 8-of-11 shooting off the bench.
With the win, OKC improves to 42-12 on the season, moving four games ahead of the Spurs atop the West and already owning the tiebreaker with San Antonio.
The Thunder is now 2-2 against the Blazers this season, with both of those wins coming without Westbrook in the last three weeks.
Throughout the game, there was competitive barking between the teams. And after, there seemed to be a bit of animosity brewing between the contenders who matched up four times before the All-Star break.
“We respect this team, they respect us,” Durant said postgame. “But we don’t like this team and they don’t like us. That’s point blank.”
“We don’t care to like them,” Aldridge said when told of Durant’s quote. “We’re not trying to make friends out there. We’re trying to win games.”
Too bad we won’t see these teams battle again until the playoffs.