Trail Blazers vs Thunder Friday, 04/12/13 AT 07:00PM

Big Third Quarter Propels Thunder Past Trail Blazers

04/12/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    The Portland Trail Blazers (33-45) were step for step with the Oklahoma City Thunder (59-21) for the first half. However, Russell Westbrook scored 17 of his 33 points in the third quarter and the Trail Blazers only scored seven, putting the Thunder too far out of reach. The Thunder won by the score of 106-90. Will Barton had a solid night with 18 points, seven rebounds and two steals for the Trail Blazers.

    The Trail Blazers welcomed back JJ Hickson to the starting lineup and it appeared JJ was back to his normal-self, starting the night with seven quick points in the first quarter, helping LaMarcus Aldridge dominate on the inside. Hickson and Aldridge scored Portland's first 15 points and Aldridge was finding a rhythm with Lillard in the pick and roll. However, the Thunder were their blistering selves on the offensive end, tallying up a 30-point quarter and giving themselves a four-point lead.

    The Trail Blazers struggled at the start of the second as it appeared they were going to lose control of the game in the first half. The Thunder jumped out to a 9-2 run and gave themselves an 11-point lead. But, Will Barton, along with solid play from Joel Freeland off the bench who had five points and five boards in his 8:47 in the first half (finished with five points, six rebounds), helped energize the Trail Blazers back into the game.

    Barton didn't start off hot as his early jumpers didn't fall, but as Will says, he may not "always be efficient," but he'll "always be aggressive." He did that and started attacking the rim with his patented aggression. Barton really started things off with a massive dunk on Thabo Sefolosha and the run was on.

    "It felt real good. Any time I can get a chance to get to the rim, key eyes light up to get a dunk. I like to play that way. I'm an athletic guy so I like to get up and down. It felt good to get one down," Barton said on the dunk over Sefolosha.

    The Trail Blazers climbed back into the game and actually had a three-point lead with 1:41 left. However, the Thunder closed the half on a 5-0 run that took all one 32 seconds to take a one-point lead after Sefolosha hit a buzzer-beating corner three to end the half (he did the same thing last night to end the half in Golden State last night, both momentum killers).

    The Thunder jumped out in the second half as though they had the momentum and the Trail Blazers came out on the offensive end not executing as they were to get back into the game. The ball was stagnant and the Oklahoma City had Russell Westbrook, who couldn't be stopped tonight.

    "I thought the ball stopped. The ball stopped and we're not a one-on-one team. They did a nice job on LaMarcus, fronting him, doubling him from the baseline. We weren't able to get much going there. They did a nice job with Damian as far as having two guys there and protecting the rim when he did drive. The first five minutes of the second half, we had about five or six shots where the ball just didn't move," said Terry Stotts.

    "He just got on one of those rolls," LaMarcus Aldridge, who finished with 12 points, said. "Because you know, you don't mind him taking jump shots. He just kept getting to the midrange shot and knocking it down, so you don't want to run and trap him. He's the point guard, you know you've got to guard Kevin Durant. So, it was just one of those games where he's got it going."

    Westbrook's scoring barrage decimated the Trail Blazers in their seven-point quarter, with the Thunder leading by 20.

    The Trail Blazers were struggling but they were able to work their way back into the game with about four minutes left. They cut the Thunder lead to 14 points, forcing Scott Brooks to put Westbrook and Durant (16 points on seven of 11 shooting) back into the game. The Thunder were able to put the game out of reach with a couple of buckets, and that was that.

    For the Trail Blazers, after their tenth straight loss, the goal is simply to break this losing streak before the season ends.

    "It's tough. I hate losing, especially with the type of season we had. I don't want to go into the off season on a 12-game losing streak or whatever it could be. I want to win, at least one game so, it's frustrating to keep losing." said Damian Lillard, who finished with 10 points and eight assists.

    "I think, every body wants to get a win and you know, definitely don't want to go out losing every game. That's been the focus for these last games too, so hopefully we can get one," said Aldridge.

    Their next chance to get one comes on Sunday afternoon in Denver, something Eric Maynor said after the game would be "a track meet."

    Tip-off for that game will be at 2PM here in Denver and the game will be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.



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