Share “Thunder loss tightens race”

By Mike Baldwin, Staff Writer, mbaldwin@opubco.com Published: March 29, 2010

If
we want to go out and win games, we can’t rebound like that. I’ll say it’s my fault. I only had five rebounds.”

After locking down Kobe Bryant on Friday night, Thabo Sefolosha’s lock-down defense on Brandon Roy and Andre Miller the final 90 seconds gave the Thunder a shot at rallying for a win.

But the Thunder’s only basket the final 3 1/2 minutes was James Harden’s put-back off an offensive rebound with 1:02 left.

On its last six offensive possessions, OKC was 1-of-5 from the field with a turnover. Kevin Durant missed two 3-pointers, including one that could have tied the game with :06 left.

"That’s one area we need to continue to work to get better,” Brooks said. "Those possessions are important. We understand when you’re closing out games the last four or five minutes, you really have to take care of the basketball and get good shots.”

Portland coach Nate McMillian and other Trail Blazer players, such as veteran center Marcus Camby, said the game’s importance provided an electric atmosphere.

"Tonight felt like a playoff game with their crowd,” Camby said. "It did even when the Hornets were here a couple of years ago. They have a great fan base. I’m excited for this city. It definitely felt like a playoff game.”

Andre Miller, who scored nine of his team-high 26 points in the third quarter when Portland seized momentum, said it was a well earned win that will make the final two-plus weeks interesting as teams jockey for playoff seeding.

"They are tough, especially trying to fight for position in the playoffs,” Miller said. "We have to treat every game like a playoff game. Hopefully, there will be some carryover.”