If I’m Terry Stotts, my game plan against the Thunder is pretty simple: let Kevin Durant do what he will, and box out everyone else. For the first half, it seemed like they were doing exactly that, and Portland held the lead for the first 23 minutes and change; OKC managed to pull ahead by one, briefly, but it didn’t last. About midway through the third, radio guy Matt Pinto observed that in the previous two games in the series, the Blazers had outscored the Thunder in the third quarter, 64-45. At the time, the Blazers had indeed outscored the Thunder in the third quarter. That string was broken by, of course, Durant, who capped an 11-0 Thunder run with a 24-footer assisted by Jeremy Lamb to give OKC the quarter, 26-23, and a two-point lead, 77-75.
The unraveling came with about four minutes left, after Lamb bricked two freebies, two particularly heinous calls and a Durant expostulation that earned a technical. As has happened before, though, irritation led to something very like inspiration, and the Thunder cranked up the defense, highlighted with three blocks on a single Blazers possession. With 48 seconds left, OKC had bounded to a seven-point lead; just for the sheer hell of it, Durant dropped a trey, his sixth of the night, the Blazers finally got a shot after a five-minute drought — they had even missed the free throw on Durant’s T — and the Thunder finally got a win over Portland, 105-97.
As always, the Thunder didn’t have any consistent way to contain LaMarcus Aldridge until the fourth quarter, when the combination of fatigue and Kendrick Perkins negated his efforts. Still, Aldridge finished at 29 with 16 rebounds, and equally big Robin Lopez had a double-double of his own (10 points, 10 boards). Four other Blazers scored in double figures.
Only four from the Thunder scored in double figures, but one of them was Durant, who knocked down 46 on 17-25 shooting. (Aldridge, I note, was 12-26.) Serge Ibaka was down on points (just 10 on 4-15), but up on swats (five blocks). And Steven Adams got through 17 minutes of playing time with only two fouls.
There’s maybe just enough time to catch one’s breath before tomorrow night in San Antonio. Then again, the Thunder are 2-0 against the Spurs this season; if they’re not thinking “Aw, hell, we can take these guys,” well, they ought to be.