Oddly enough, the Thunder had 14 assists in the first half, but just two assists after intermission, yet still won handily thanks to driving the basketball and defense that frequently resulted in easy baskets.
“We're really locking down on defense and we were getting easier shots in the second half,” Harden explained. “Russell (Westbrook) was making some good pull-ups and lots of guys were making some shots.”
Westbrook's overall performance was superb. He finished with a game-high 32 points, shot 16 for 26 from the field, had eight assists, three steals and just two turnovers. His only flaws were from 3-point range and the free-throw line, where he went 0 for 3 in each.
Kevin Durant added 25 points and shot 10 for 14 from the floor. Serge Ibaka had eight points, 12 rebounds and six blocked shots.
The Blazers went down swinging and made a push in the third quarter.
With 9:32 left in the third period, the Thunder led 69-49 following a Durant dunk. Portland went on a 17-2 tear over the next five minutes to pull within 71-66.
OKC re-established itself with key defensive stops that led to easy baskets, and the Thunder led by double-digits the final nine minutes of the game.
“We knew they would make a run,” Brooks said of the Blazers. “They're a very prideful team. They play hard this is one of the toughest places to play. The crowd is outstanding and they had a lot of momentum going but we made some big plays to stop that run.”
Though OKC has had several quality runs this season, these last four games might be the most impressive yet.
“I think these last couple games we're playing our best basketball both offensively and defensively,” Harden said.