Posted March 23, 2013 on AP on Fox
Facing a potential third straight loss, the Oklahoma City Thunder turned to their defense to bail them out against one of the league's worst teams. The Thunder might have a more difficult time trying to slip past a Portland Trail Blazers team that has built some momentum on its road trip. Oklahoma City will try to beat Portland for the sixth straight time and move within two games of the Western Conference lead on Sunday night. While they have one of the NBA's top scoring offenses, the Thunder (51-19) stepped up defensively after visiting Orlando took a stunning two-point lead with 7:29 remaining on Friday. Oklahoma City held the lowly Magic without a field goal over the final 2:26 on the way to a 97-89 home win that snapped its brief two-game skid. The Thunder have allowed 97.2 points per game on the season, but limited their opponents to just 89.5 on 38.7 percent shooting in their last two contests. "We had two tough losses ... I give our guys a lot of credit,'' Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "They picked themselves up and came into tonight with a good mindset. We got the win and we're moving on to the next game.'' Now the Thunder will try to clamp down on the Trail Blazers after holding them to just 87.5 points per game and 36.0 percent shooting in a pair of victories earlier this season. Russell Westbrook led the offense with 32 points on 13-of-24 shooting and Kevin Durant had 23, 17 rebounds and seven assists in a 106-92 win in Oklahoma City on Nov. 2. Durant, the league's leading scorer at 28.4 per game, also finished with 33 in an 87-83 victory at Portland on Jan. 13. Westbrook had 18 on 5-of-21 shooting in that meeting, but has averaged 29.2 while shooting 51.9 percent in his last five home games in this series. Although the Thunder rank near the top of the league in 3-point percentage (37.7), they've hit just 16 for 85 (18.8) from beyond the arc over their last four games. It may not be easy breaking out of that slump against the Trail Blazers (33-36), who are one of the league's best teams at defending the perimeter. Portland has limited its opponents to 33.9 percent shooting from long range and 11 for 38 in its back-to-back victories. Since losing 14 of 16 on the road, the Trail Blazers have won consecutive road games for the first time since early January with a 99-89 victory at Chicago on Thursday and a 104-93 win at Atlanta on Friday. Against the Hawks, Wesley Matthews led the way with 28 points, Damian Lillard added 22 and LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 and 13 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who are tied for 10th in the West and three games behind the eighth-place Los Angeles Lakers. "We're going to keep on fighting until we're mathematically eliminated,'' Matthews said. Aldridge has scored at least 20 in seven straight games, averaging 26.0 points and 11.7 rebounds during that stretch. He's also totaled 55 and 26, respectively, against the Thunder. With Lillard and Matthews combining to shoot 28 for 51 from beyond the arc, the Trail Blazers have made at least 10 3s in each of their last four games while shooting 48.4 percent from long range in that span.

Fan tackled by Durant after nailing shot

Sunday will go down as a great day in the life of Justin Doughtery.First, Doughtery decided to celebrate his birthday by watching the Oklahoma City Thunder play host to the Portland Trail Blazers. Next, he nailed a halfcourt shot during a timeout in the third quarter to pocket $20,000.Finally, he received a massive hug/tackle from Thunder superstar Kevin Durant while celebrating...

Another Thunder fan hits 20k half-court shot

The old saying goes that "lightning never strikes twice." Evidently, the same can't be said about thunder. For the second time in a month, a fan has hit a half-court shot at an Oklahoma City Thunder game to win 20,000. On Sunday night, Justin Dougherty, a television reporter from Springfield, MO, was selected to participate in the Thunder's 3rd quarter shooting...

Kevin Durant impressed with Maurice Harkless

Even before Maurice Harkless dropped a career-high 25 points against the Thunder on Friday, he was receiving praise from the highest source. The NBA's leading scorer, Kevin Durant, was surprised to learn that the rookie was 19 years old and remarked that Harkless had grown up immeasurably in his defensively ability against him from that first matchup. In that 117-103 Thunder...

Kevin Durant Tackles Fan Who Hits Halfcourt Shot

Another Thunder fan hit the MidFirst Bank halfcourt shot to win $20,000 during Sunday night’s game at Chesapeake Energy Arena and Kevin Durant stormed midcourt to help Justin Dougherty celebrate, LeBron style.

Thunder 103, Trail Blazers 83

Kevin Durant had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Russell Westbrook scored 21 points and fueled a key third-quarter spurt that helped the Oklahoma City Thunder pull away for a 103-83 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night. Serge Ibaka added 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting for Oklahoma City (52-19), which entered the game 2 1/2 games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the...

Magic aim to head down Thunder's road

ORLANDO, Fla. It wasnt long ago when the Oklahoma City Thunder found themselves going through what the Orlando Magic are now. As rough as things have been for the Magic, at least they didnt have to endure a 1-12 start that prompted a coaching change in 2008. Rob Hennigan, the Thunders newly appointed director of collegeinternational player personnel, could have been forgiven at...

Thunder 97, Magic 89

Kevin Durant scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, Russell Westbrook had 19 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder held off the Orlando Magic 97-89 on Friday night. The Magic briefly took a one-point lead in the final period, but the Thunder hit eight of their final 10 free throws to help seal the victory. The win ends a string of consecutive losses for the Thunder, who...

Most Improved Player: A Case For J.J. Hickson Over James Harden

  J.J. Hickson’s latest monster game was a break from the mold. In the Trail Blazers’ win over the Chicago Bulls Thursday night, he didn’t record a double-double for only the 29th time this season. But what he did do was set a career high for rebounds with 21. Hickson is the eighth-leading rebounder in the NBA. He’s pulling down 10.7 a night. He ranks sixth in field...

Cup of Joe: Thunder bailed out by second half defense

No question, the Thunder earned a solid win Sunday night. However, there was a lot to learn from their third meeting with the Trail Blazers. April is approaching and Oklahoma City is still experiencing problems in the paint. The Trail Blazers really attacked OKC in the interior, and take away a cold last six minutes, the result may have not been so lopsided. Seriously,...

Welcome to the Show

As a native Oklahoma and lover of basketball, it's truly amazing for me personally that Oklahoma's first major league sports team was an NBA franchise. I am not one of the kids who was raised on Larry Bird or Michael Jordan. No, I fell in love with the game watching Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson. So as a younger basketball fan, I do not try to act like I know anymore than...

Thunder inch closer to top seed with blowout win

  Oklahoma City Thunder Split Portland Trail Blazers 103 Points 83 43-82 (52.4%) FGM-FGA 32-79 (40.5%) 4-11 (36.4%) ...
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