Thunder-Trail Blazers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 26, 2012
The Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder have been scoring at an incredibly high rate, but coach Scott Brooks was thrilled with what he saw from his team on the defensive end in its last game. Portland Trail Blazers interim coach Kaleb Canales would like to see his club make a push back into the playoff picture. The Thunder go for a fourth consecutive victory Tuesday night at the Rose Garden, where the Trail Blazers try to split the four-game season series with their first set of back-to-back wins in more than two months. Among the league leaders with 103.6 points per game, Oklahoma City (37-12) has averaged 122.0 during its winning streak while shooting 53.2 percent. Led by 28 points from Kevin Durant and 19 apiece from Serge Ibaka and James Harden, the Thunder made 52.7 percent of their shots in Sunday's 103-87 victory over Miami. Oklahoma City's season-best 13 steals helped it score 28 points off 21 Heat turnovers. The Thunder have 31 steals and 19 blocks since their last loss. "When we're getting into a defensive stance and all four guys are in that stance and one guy on the ball, there are not a lot of opportunities to score in the paint, and that's how we want to play," Brooks told the Thunder's official website. Maintaining that defensive intensity could be crucial as the Thunder are targeting the league's best record and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Oklahoma City could make a strong case for that spot if it fares well in upcoming games against the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago, Memphis, Miami and Indiana. The Thunder, though, can't overlook the 12th-place Trail Blazers (23-26). Portland hasn't won two in a row since Jan. 23-24, but the club continues its three-game homestand with plenty of confidence following Sunday's 90-87 victory over Golden State. The Blazers rallied from seven down at halftime to improve to 3-3 since Canales replaced the fired Nate McMillan. "We talk about resolve and I felt like guys responded tonight,'' Canales said. "LaMarcus (Aldridge) made huge plays down the stretch. He had a big shot (with 39.9 seconds left), but more than that, he made the right reads and plays tonight.'' Aldridge has made plenty of plays in three games versus Oklahoma City in 2011-12, averaging a team-best 28.0 points. The first-time All-Star finished with a season-high 39 points in a 111-107 overtime loss on Feb. 6 in the Thunder's lone visit to Portland this season. However, it was a goaltending call on Aldridge - one the league later called incorrect - on Durant's layup attempt with six seconds left in regulation that got the most attention. Aside from Durant, who's averaging 33.3 points, 11.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists over the last three games, Portland's front line of Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and center Joel Przybilla will want to keep a close eye on Ibaka. Ibaka is averaging 14.0 points per game with 9.0 boards and 3.0 blocks during the winning streak, while center Kendrick Perkins has 28 points and 11 rebounds in the last two contests. Russell Westbrook, tied with Durant with a team-best 78 points versus Portland this season, scored 28 with 11 boards and eight assists on Feb. 6 to help Oklahoma City snap Portland's five-game home winning streak. Blazers point guard Raymond Felton, who missed that game with a sprained left foot, scored 19 of his season-best 24 points in the second half Sunday.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bears trade up one spot with 49ers for Mitch Trubisky

Cleveland Browns select Myles Garrett with No. 1 overall pick

Matt Carpenter’s walk-off grand slam was pretty rare

Report: Rajon Rondo ruled out for Game 6 against Celtics

NBA announces eight new awards to be voted on by fans

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Sherman wants to be traded to Patriots

Report: Carmelo Anthony trying to save marriage with wife La La

Yoenis Cespedes exits game with left hamstring pull

Colts' David Parry pleads guilty, faces three years in prison

Report: Former Washington GM running scouting service, advising NFL teams

NFL to honor late Steelers owner Dan Rooney during draft

The 'NFL Draft Day is finally upon us' quiz

Most memorable 'NFL Draft weekend drama' stories

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern rivalries take center stage

Marshawn Lynch gives an already-spurned city hometown appeal

Box Score 4/27: Waiting for Goodell to call our name

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'Bonehead blunder that watered down the 1931 AL home run crown' quiz

Draft prospects we're most excited to see in the NFL

Stanley Cup Playoffs: The West is full of surprises

Box Score 4/26: NFL Draft eve

The 'QB or not QB? That is the question' quiz

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 'NFL Draft Day is finally upon us' quiz

Most memorable 'NFL Draft weekend drama' stories

Everything you need for the 2017 NFL Draft

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern rivalries take center stage

Marshawn Lynch gives an already-spurned city hometown appeal

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'Bonehead blunder that watered down the 1931 AL home run crown' quiz

Draft prospects we're most excited to see in the NFL

Stanley Cup Playoffs: The West is full of surprises

How the Astros are following the Cubs' blueprint to the top

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker