One does not simply walk into the Rose Garden: all kinds of scary creatures lurk therein, and the scariest might be LaMarcus Aldridge, who always causes grief for the Thunder and tonight ran up a season-high 39 points. It didn’t help that Nicolas Batum was grabby all night and managed to get called for only two fouls. Then again, Thunder shot selection in the fourth quarter was debatable: after nine minutes, they’d scored only ten points, and the Trail Blazers, who’d trailed by as many as twelve, were up four. OKC fought back to a tie, but Portland was back up by two going into the last minute. Then with six seconds left, Kevin Durant put up a shot, Aldridge put up a hand, and goaltending was called. With the score tied at 103, Batum went for the last shot, and Russell Westbrook made sure he didn’t get it.
With 30 seconds left in the overtime, OKC had outscored PDX 6-4, and a questionable call one of several this evening gave the Blazers the ball. Kendrick Perkins obliged with a timely block, and at :02, Durant, in his role as Captain Crunch, slammed the ball into the net. OKC 111, Portland 107, evening the season series at 1-1, and the Thunder managed to walk out of the Rose Garden.
OKC did come up with the bulk of the night’s rebounds (59-39); Serge Ibaka had 13, Perkins 10, and Westbrook (!) 11. Durant rolled up 33 points, Westbrook 28, James Harden 19, and Ibaka 12. We won’t discuss the 19 turnovers.
For Portland, Jamal Crawford started at the point, Raymond Felton having sprained his ankle. Crawford wound up playing almost 45 minutes; he acquitted himself well, scoring 17. Wesley Matthews added 18 more. But as always, the major thorn in the Thunder’s side was Aldridge, who got those 39 on 14 shots and 11 consecutive free throws. Marcus Camby cleared off 15 boards to lead the Blazers.
So it’s 1-1 with three games to go on this road trip. Tomorrow night: Golden State, followed by a Thursday game in Sacramento. No rest for your weary correspondent. (I’ll get over it.)