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Thunder's win over Trail Blazers had postseason feel

by Jenni Carlson Published: March 27, 2011

/articleid/3552443/1/pictures/1386507">Photo - Oklahoma City's Thabo Sefolosha (2) shoots a lay up as Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge (12) defends during the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trailblazers, Sunday, March 27, 2011, at the Oklahoma City Arena. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Thabo Sefolosha (2) shoots a lay up as Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge (12) defends during the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trailblazers, Sunday, March 27, 2011, at the Oklahoma City Arena. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Perkins and Ibaka battled LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby and anyone else the Blazers sent into the paint.

Scott Brooks even picked up a technical, his first of the season.

“I guess I'll be hearing from my mother now,” he said after the game.

He smiled and chuckled.

But seriously ...

“Both teams really played as hard as they can play,” the Thunder coach said, “fighting through every possession.”

It set up a fantastic finish, an ending worthy of ESPN's national television audience and enticing for the playoffs to come.

After a questionable foul on Durant sent the Oklahoma City faithful booing all through a television timeout, the Blazers cut the Thunder's lead to two with just over two minutes left. Only two minutes earlier, it had been eight points.

Gut-check time.

The Thunder responded with a Perkins putback, then got the twin blocks from Perk and Ibaka and the back-to-back baskets from Westbrook.

The Thunder didn't fold in the crunch.

“I'm proud that they stayed together,” Brooks said. “When things weren't going our way ... we were communicating and talking and helping each other out. That's what good teams do, and we're a good basketball team.”

No doubt about that.

This team has made two years ago seem a distant memory. That was the season this franchise came to town, won only one of its first 13 games and had everyone scrambling for the record books to see if they might contend for the worst record ever.

Now, this bunch has proved that it can find a way to win no matter the circumstance.

“That's what the playoffs are about,” Brooks said. “It's about being mentally tough, not only physically tough.”

Looks like the Thunder is ready for the postseason.

So are the rest of us.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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