Jan 21, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) drives the ball by Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) and is called for an offensive foul during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Trail Blazers Wilt Late, Kevin Durant scores 46 Points

 

The Portland Trail Blazers collapsed when it mattered most, missing shot after shot after shot in crunch time as the Thunder plugged along. The Thunder took their biggest lead of the game with under a minute to play and defeated the Trail Blazers, 105-97. The Thunder now lead the division, and the 30-11 Blazers get a day off to prepare to host the Denver Nuggets in Portland at 7:30 p.m. PST on Thursday.

 

Players

Kevin Durant isn’t a Blazer (whimper), but he’s being included because he’s not human. He’s filthy, and how dare he. With the Thunder down 5 with less than 4 minutes to go in the game, he went ahead and got 11 of his 46 points to steal the win. What’s that again? 46 points? Oh, because he’s only averaging 36 per game this month. Sheesh. He was 17-25 from the field, 6-7 from deep, 6-7 from the line, and added 5 boards with 4 assists. He is also having the highest-scoring month of his career… and it’s only the 20th. Seriously sublime, and seriously the MVP of the league, no question.

LaMarcus Aldridge was really, really good, especially in the third quarter, when he tallied 11 points and 9 rebounds. He finished the game with 29 and 16, but he couldn’t hit his shots during a crucial late-game push when the Blazers desperately needed something, anything, to go in. It’s weird to look on a 29 and 16 game as being anything short of great, but he missed 6 shots and turned the ball over in the final four and a half minutes. Not what you want from your best player in crunch time.

Robin Lopez now has more double-doubles this season (16) than he has had in all other games in his career combined (15). He had 10 and 10 with a block, and a lot of nice maneuvering to keep guys out of rebounding position.

Wesley Matthews bounced back to go 4-8 from deep and 7-15 overall for his 21 points. He got mad a few times, and it almost makes you wish he was taller, or longer, or more athletic, or had better handles, because a guys with his passion and his drive don’t come along all the time. Alas, Matthews can’t exactly take games over by himself.

Damian Lillard didn’t have a good game. 6-15 shooting, 0-5 from distance, and 14 points with just 4 assists. It happens.

Nicolas Batum played hurt, and he looked it. 3 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers.

CJ McCollum’s floater deserves a roster spot on this team. Add in some handles and a three-point shot, and baby, you’ve got a stew goin’. He only had 5 in this one, but he also only took 3 shots. He’s going to be good.

Mo Williams played well, going 6-10 for 13 points and 9 assists. And yet I just can’t help but twinge every time he’s on the court. As long as he makes opponents feel that way, too, I guess it’s all good.

 

Recap

This game was a back-and-forth affair until Kevin Durant decided he was better than everyone on the court. Having said that, the Blazers looked very much like they were the better team and were going to pull this one out when they were up by 5 with 3:45 left to go.

Then OKC had to go on one of the most epic late-game runs I’ve ever seen and spoil our fun. After a pair of Aldridge free throws, The Blazers were 95-90 with 3:45 to go. Then Durant scored. Then hit a three. Then the Blazers turned it over, and Reggie Jackson scored. Then Serge Ibaka blocked Aldridge, then blocked Matthews, then Perkins blocked Lilllard and Aldridge missed, leading Perkins to hit a jumper, and Durant to hit a three and then another three. Just… what even happened? The Thunder scored 15 points in that crucial stretch to Portland’s zero, and Blazer fans everywhere, myself very much included, were left facepalming so hard that noses may have been broken.

 

Notes

  • Portland was just 0-4 from the line in the first half, and 10-16 overall. Not what you expect from the league-leaders in free throw percentage.
  • Aldridge feasted when Ibaka guarded him, but the Blazers didn’t handle him being double-teamed very well. There was even a moment when Aldridge was doubled, and McCollum, instead of swinging it quickly to an open Batum, diddled around with it and wasted the possession. For all intents and purposes, LMA double should = swing it.
  • The season series now sits at 2-1 in Portland’s favor. The Trail Blazers could still emerge victorious overall, but now the Thunder will have a chance to tie when they meet at the Moda Center on February 11th.

 

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Tags: Kevin Durant LaMarcus Aldridge Portland Trail Blazers

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