Oklahoma City blew a 9-point fourth quarter lead and fell to the Portland Trail Blazers in front of a rocking New Year’s Eve sell out 98-94.
Kevin Durant did everything he wanted to do in the first three quarters, scoring 36 points, grabbing 10 rebounds on 12-of-21 shooting. However, Portland’s defense was spectacular on the MVP candidate. They limited Durant to 0-of-5 shooting in the fourth quarter, and was a team worst -13 in the fourth quarter.
Oklahoma City scored just 16 points in the fourth quarter, as they fell on New Year’s Even for the first time since moving from Seattle.
The Thunder (25-6) led 78-71 after four quarter and held onto a 11-point lead in the quarter. However, credit the Portland Trail Blazers for not quitting. Oklahoma City missed shot after shot and Portland did little bit little to chip back into the game.
First it was a 7-point game with 6:41 left in the fourth quarter, and the Thunder were outscored for the remainder of the game 21-10.
The free throws though, were key. Reggie Jackson, coming into the game as the league’s leader in percentage free throw shooting, miss two free throws in the final two minutes, really handicapping the Thunder’s’ ability to make a come back. Even Durant missed a crucial free throw in the final 23 seconds of the game. He was able to get the rebound, and he missed on at the rim with about 15 seconds remaining.
Oklahoma City had a chance after Mo Williams missed two free throws with 15 seconds remaining. However, it was Robin Lopez grabbing the offensive rebound, and getting it to Wesley Matthews. Matthews then drained the free throws, icing the game. Oklahoma City had their chances, but the Portland Trail Blazers just never really gave up.
Keys to the game
Score Points: D
Portland had come into the game allowing 107.6 points per game in their last nine games. However, they forced the Thunder into just 94 points. The Thunder shot just 33 percent in the second half, a lot of credit to Portland doing a good job defensively.
Thunder out rebounded the Blazers, and scored more points on second chances. However, the most important one was the one that really hurt Oklahoma City the most, the Lopez rebound. It feels like in the big games, Oklahoma City seems to miss out on the bigger boards.
Strong start: B
Both teams came out strong, but it was the way Oklahoma City took Portland’s shot in the first and third quarter and kept on going. We really thought the Thunder were going to score 200 points at the rate they were going in the first half. Then there response against the Blazers in the third was really good too. Just wasn’t our night tonight.