Long-ball blues

Says it all:

“Here” was a 98-all tie after 48 minutes. And with 1:39 left in overtime, Russell Westbrook, having scored a season-high 40 points — with 10 rebounds, no less — fouled out. In the last ten seconds, LaMarcus Aldridge and Serge Ibaka got into a brief altercation; a foul was called on Ibaka, his sixth, and Aldridge, who threw the first punch-like exchange, was thumbed. Even sillier, a skirmish broke out in the stands. The Blazers already had this one won, having tossed in a remarkable 17 points in the overtime period for a 115-111 triumph.

And there wasn’t much anyone could do about Damian Lillard, who dropped in 40 points — three short of his season high — on a mere 21 shots. (We’re talking 8-12 from outside the circle and 10 of 11 free throws.) It was Lillard who forced overtime with a three-ball with three seconds left, and it was Lillard who got seven of those 17 overtime points. Wesley Matthews added 22. And Aldridge, however rotten he may have felt, put up 28 shots, making only nine, but still clocking 25 points.

With Nicolas Batum and Robin Lopez out, Portland didn’t have much of a bench, and the Blazer reserves contributed only 19 points, or two fewer than Reggie Jackson. The OKC bench popped up 46 points. Then again, Andre Roberson and Perry Jones combined produced only two.

Still: Thunder 54 points in the paint, Blazers 24. The offset: Blazers 17-31 from outside, Thunder 6-19. Which supports a premise I’ve long believed, to the effect that the three-point shot works better as fanservice than an actual tool for winning — unless you make a hell of a lot of them. Portland, which collected 51 points from beyond the arc, did exactly that.

How blue a Christmas? Ask the Spurs. The Thunder have to go to San Antonio to find out.

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