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Turnovers And Rough Shooting Derail Trail Blazers in Oklahoma City

03/24/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    Nicolas Batum was active from the outset for the Trail Blazers (32-37) but his 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists weren't enough to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder (52-19) as they lost 103-83. The Trail Blazers had a lead in the second half, but the Thunder were able to make a big run to take control of the game as they turned it up on both ends.

    "I thought it was a good effort against arguably the best team in the West," said Terry Stotts. "It's the fifth game in seven nights, just didn't quite have it at the end. There a talented team that create a lot of problems at both ends of the floor. I don't think the final score was indicative of how the game went."

    The Trail Blazers were once again on their front foot and attacking in the early going. Much like they had in their last two victories, they Trail Blazers started off in attack mode and they were led by Nicolas Batum, who was active all over the court. Batum was attacking off the dribble and creating, going to the basket, getting his hands on loose balls and blocking shots. The Trail Blazers needed his energy and activity on a night when both LaMarcus Aldridge, who shot three of 14 shooting for 10 points with 10 rebounds, and Wesley Matthews, who went three of 11, had off nights from the field.

    However, even Batum himself shot only four of 11, and most of the Trail Blazers struggled on their shots. Their saving grace was the three-point shot. As they made 10 in the game. One thing that hurt the Trail Blazers but even more so in the second half was were turnovers, as they had 17 on the night.

    Stotts continued giving Meyers Leonard and Eric Maynor the majority of minutes off the bench but also got Will Barton minutes in the early going. On the end of the road trip, the fifth game in seven nights, the Trail Blazers needed a solid effort from their bench. JJ Hickson was one of the few starters to have a good night from the field, going six for 11, and gave the Trail Blazers a two-point lead on a buzzer-beater to end the half off the glass.

    The Trail Blazers came out again as the aggressors as Wesley Matthews showed signs he was just heating up by hitting a three  to start the second half and give the Trail Blazers a five-point lead. That would be Portland's largest lead as the Thunder could not be stopped offensively in the second half. The Trail Blazers were not able to keep up on a night when Aldridge and Matthews were off, no matter how well they were shooting the three.  

    Kevin Durant scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for OKC and had it going for much of the night, but Serge Ibaka's second half made the difference. The Trail Blazers were constantly helping off or losing Ibaka in attempts to contain Westbrook (21 points, nine rebounds) and Durant. Ibaka went seven of nine in the second half, living off midrange jumpers, finishing with 16 points, five blocks and three rebounds.
     
    Eric Maynor had 10 points in his return to Oklahoma City. Damian Lillard had 19 points and six assists. Both of them hit a couple of big threes in the fourth quarter that helped get the Thunder lead within reasonable distance for a comeback. However, every time the Trail Blazers inched closer, the Thunder had an answer, only to put an exclamation point on their last run and close the Trail Blazers out by 20. But as Stotts indicates, the game was far more competitive than that.

    "Well, they hit a couple of shots," said Wesley Matthews on what happened in the fourth quarter. "I don't know if we turned the ball over or not. I can't remember the series of events, but they caught fire a little bit. The score wasn't indicative of what the game was, and I was disappointed."

    The Trail Blazers are off until Wednesday when they face the Brooklyn Nets at home. TIp-off for that is 7:30 and the game will be shown on ESPN and CSNNW. It can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

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