“A couple of years ago (23-59 overall with 3-29 start), we were the worst team ever.” OKC (48-24) is now 3-0 against the Blazers (42-31) this season and 12-2 in March. The Thunder withstood a 40-point eruption from recently acquired forward Gerald Wallace, who was still with Charlotte when OKC had its two-game sweep against Portland in early November. “It wasn’t enough,” said Wallace, who shot 16 for 28 from the field. “I’d rather take the win than take the points.” Westbrook, who averages slightly more than one 3-point attempt per game, finished 4 for 5 from beyond the arc. Each of his three 3s in the final quarter came at crucial moments. Asked if it was one of those times a coach is thinking, “No, no, no,” while the shot is in the air, Brooks smiled and said, “There were a few ‘no’s in there, but ‘nice shot.’” OKC led 55-40 with 8.8 seconds left before intermission, but the Blazers had tied the score at 69 less than 10 minutes later. Portland forced three more ties, but never managed to take the lead. “They were very physical tonight and we like that,” Brooks said. “We have to continue to work through all the physical play and I thought we were being physical, too. They were having trouble scoring just as well as we were.” Westbrook finished with a team-high 28 points, seven assists and two steals. Durant had 21 points and tied a career high with five blocked shots. Ibaka added 18 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Perkins had 10 rebounds and two blocks.
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