One does not simply walk — oh, wait, I’ve already used that. Anyway, despite their sub-.500 record and a recent slump, the Trail Blazers came into this game 16-8 at the Rose Garden, and it would have been a grievous mistake to take them lightly. The Thunder got a reminder of this in the third quarter, watching their 18-point halftime lead shrink to five. This is usually the signal to tighten up already, which they did; with three minutes left and the Thunder up 19, the benches were emptied, and OKC finished off the Blazers, 109-95.
We didn’t see a repeat of whatever it was between Russell Westbrook and Raymond Felton; Felton was excused for personal reasons and did not dress. Rookie point guard Nolan Smith didn’t make much noise. Then again, the usual thorn in OKC’s side was and is LaMarcus Aldridge, and J. J. Hickson, retrieved by Portland after being waived by Sacramento, was similarly pointy tonight. (Hickson had 21 points, Aldridge 20.) Still, the Blazers weren’t going to make much headway on a night when OKC was hitting 57 percent — it was 60 percent before garbage time — and Westbrook, enjoying his unFeltoned self, rolled up 32 points to lead everyone. (Kevin Durant picked up 25; James Harden, who missed only one shot all night, had 21.)
Still, that third-quarter run of Portland’s was scary, and I can’t say I’m going to miss these guys the rest of the season. (The series ends 3-1 OKC.) It would be nice if Golden State could knock the Lakers down a notch later tonight, but if they don’t, well, the Thunder will get their chance Thursday night, or maybe Friday morning. Damn West Coast games.