Dampened blaze

Sometimes all it takes is a diligent application of the fundamentals. Still smarting from the drubbing they got from the Spurs, the Thunder buckled down early on, jumped out to a 16-point lead after the first quarter, and the Trail Blazers, the first team to beat the Thunder in OKC this season, were sent back to Portland with a loss. The Thunder won this one going away, 111-95 (note: 16-point difference), and now lead the season series 2-1, always useful against division rivals.

OKC actually shot their way to this win: 55 percent from the floor, 61 percent (11 of 18) from downtown, and we’ll tiptoe past the ten free throws (of 28) they missed. Rebounds: OKC, 43-35. Assists: OKC, 24-15. Turnovers: OKC, 15-12. (Well, you can’t have everything.) Once again, Russell Westbrook took more shots than Kevin Durant, but then he also scored more points (28 versus 26) and didn’t once give up the ball. James Harden was not so wonderful from the floor, but he drew fouls like crazy, and got 11 of his 14 from the stripe.

For the Blazers, sixth man Jamal Crawford scored the most points (23) and tied for most technicals (1, with Kurt Thomas). Portland shot a decent 46 percent, and Raymond Felton was effective, though Nicolas Batum was bottled up much of the night. And LaMarcus Aldridge, always a thorn in OKC’s side, was held to 15 points on 6-19 shooting; that may have been the difference right there, since Aldridge usually thinks nothing of dropping 20 or 30 on the Thunder.

Next: a one-game road swing, to Utah on Tuesday, followed by three at the ‘Peake: Clippers Wednesday, Timberwolves Friday, Heat Sunday. No one who can be taken lightly.







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