PORTLAND — As hot as Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder have been the past two weeks, you wonder if the All-Star break is coming at a bad time?
One of the league’s hottest teams going into the break, Oklahoma City dominated the fourth quarter to streak past Portland 89-77 Tuesday night at the Rose Garden.
Winning their sixth consecutive game, the organization’s longest winning streak in nearly six years, the Thunder has vaulted to sixth in the Western Conference. They’re actually closer to third than ninth.
“I’m very proud of the guys how they played the first half the season,” said coach Scott Brooks. “But that’s what it is, the first half the season. We’ve got to continue to establish who we are, how we play and maintain a defensive toughness.”
The Thunder used two 15-2 runs to post yet another statement road win.
“This gives us confidence,” said Kevin Durant, who scored 33 points to extend his streak of 25-point games to 25 straight. “We’re feeling good going into the break. The most important thing is that we come back ready to play after the All-Star break.”
Because the Thunder is as hot as they’ve been all season, is there a fear a week-long layoff between games — most players having five days off — might squash momentum gained since Christmas?
“No. I think the break is good for everybody,” Brooks said. “It’s a great way to celebrate the All-Stars and all the good basketball that was played the first half. It’s a great time for the players. I don’t worry about the momentum. Every game you still have to do the same things to win.”
The Thunder opened the game on a 15-2 run to own the lead most of the first three quarters. After the Blazers battled back to grab a couple of short-lived 2-point leads late in the third quarter, rookie James Harden sparked another 15-2 run to open the fourth quarter.
Harden, who will participate Friday night in the rookie-sophomore challenge in Dallas, scored all 13 of his points in the opening five minutes of the fourth quarter.
“We’ve been playing well these past 10 games,” Harden said. “I think we’ve been playing well the whole season.
Tuesday's box score