Let tonight be a reminder that Kevin Durant isn’t the only star in Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook, the UCLA product, authored a Hollywood-esque performance Sunday night, stealing the show in the final quarter to help the Thunder edge the Blazers. Westbrook was electric, scoring 14 of his 28 points in the fourth to secure the 99-90 victory.
Gerald Wallace hoisted the Blazers on his back, and Portland was able to linger close until the very end. Wallace moved with explosion, harmonizing his aggressive angles to the rim with a silky jumper. He scored 26 of his 40 points in the second half, nearly allowing Portland to nab this one.
A close match for much of the half, the Thunder closed with a 15-5 run to take a 14 point lead to the locker room.
Nate McMillan opened the second half inserting Marcus Camby into the starting lineup for Nic Batum, a move which produced immediate results. Portland amped up their energy level out of the break, quickly eradicating the deficit with a 13-2 run. Perpetually in motion, the pugnacious Wallace willed Portland back into the game with 15 third quarter points. He pressured Durant into perimeter shots on defense, while filling the lanes and the net on offense.
Remaining locked in, Wallace scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter for Portland; dropping jumpers in succession, including a three-point play while guarded by the gangly Durant, which tied the game at 79.
Mitigated for much of the first three quarters by foul trouble, Russell Westbrook reemerged in the fourth; a top of the key three put OKC back up 87-82. Moments later, he drained another long-ball to put the Thunder up eight with under four minutes left.
Portland immediately responded by torquing up the pressure on defense. Wesley Matthews blanketed Westbrook, and before the young gun could initiate his move Matthews picked his pocket, resulting in a Gerald Wallace layup that cut the lead to four.
With a minute left, clinging to a four point edge, the Thunder made the defensive stand of the contest. Kendrick Perkins swatted away a Gerald Wallace drive, and a second chance put back was denied as well, launching a full-court sprint for two by Westbrook. Capping his sparkling fourth quarter display, Westbrook canned a long three to stretch the lead to an insurmountable 97-90 margin with 21 seconds left.
The Thunder are vastly different team with Perkins in the middle, bumping Ibaka to the four spot. They previously featured a starting group that lacked considerable bulk, but now just the opposite is true, with the added thickness making them a more serious playoff threat. Ibaka, playing from a new position, looked awfully comfortable stepping out to shoot from mid-range, going a seven of nine from the floor for 18 points.
Nicknamed Durantula, Kevin Durant better resembled a spider in this one with just 21 points on 5-18 shooting; he did however block five shots, helping slow Wallace’s offensive rampage down the stretch.
About the Author
Written by Brandon Marcus
I am 25 year old native New Yorker. I went to the University of Florida where I got my degree Sports Management. I am a die hard fan of the New York Giants, Knicks, Mets and the movie, Die Hard. I'll be covering the Portland Trail Blazers, but also will keep my eye on the league as a whole, and will drop in from time to time with some random thoughts.