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Portland, OR (Sports Network) – Without Brandon Roy, Portland turned to a pair of veterans to will out an important victory for playoff seeding, as Marcus Camby scored 30 points with 13 rebounds and Andre Miller added 22 points and seven assists in the Trail Blazers’ 103-95 victory over Oklahoma City.
Roy got bad news before the game, a diagnosis that revealed a partially torn meniscus in his right knee. He will rest for several days for determining whether or not he will play through the injury during the playoffs or have surgery that requires a four-to-six week recovery.
In the present, Portland got over the hump thanks to Camby, Miller and solid games from LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, who scored 15 and 12 points, respectively. The Trail Blazers are tied with San Antonio for sixth position in the Western Conference playoff race, one game in front of eighth-place Oklahoma City.
Kevin Durant scored a team-best 30 points, Jeff Green added 17, James Harden chipped in with 12 and Russell Westbrook tallied 11 to go along with seven rebounds. With the loss, the Thunder are locked into the final position in the playoff picture and will face the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.
Portland trailed 51-43 at the half, but stormed out of the gates with the first 10 points of the third capped by Miller’s short running jumper for a 53-51 lead. Back and forth the teams went in the remainder of the period, with Durant’s three giving the visitors a 61-58 lead, but a free throw from Rudy Fernandez followed by a Jerryd Bayless layup handed the Trail Blazers a 73-71 edge heading into the fourth quarter.
It was there that the young Thunder struck the first blow, taking a 78-75 lead on a Green three and mid-range jumper, capping a quick 7-0 start to the quarter. Harden drained a trey moments later for an 84-79 lead, but Camby’s slam off a Miller assist put the home team back in front, 85-84, with just under seven minutes to play.
The key series of possessions occurred moments later after Durant’s short bucket squared the game at 88-88. Portland scored the next 12 points, as Oklahoma City went over three minutes without a point. Camby’s tip-in off a Batum miss punctuate the surge that put the game out of reach.
Portland held an early 15-8 edge, but the Thunder reeled off the final 10 points of the period capped by Durant’s three-pointer for a 28-22 edge.
Portland made 50 percent of its shots, but just 3-of-15 from long distance, while the Thunder connected on 46.9 shots from the floor…The game featured 16 ties and 10 lead changes…Thunder forward Nick Collison was whistled for a flagrant foul on Aldridge in the fourth period.
-LaMarcus Aldridge takes his time and drops in a jump hook over Jeff Green. "That's your guy," says Mike Rice.
-Serge Ibaka commits a foul, which brings in Nick Collison for Ibaka. The foul is big because Portland's in the penalty. Marcus Camby was the guy fouled, but Mike Rice says that Martell Webster should step to the line instead, to try to fool the officials. Mike Rice, encouraging cheating since the Stone Age.
-The Blazers double Durant, force a long three from Westbrook that misses, and Batum dunks it on the other end. Blazers by seven, 3:09 left. Camby gets the rebound, and Rice proclaims that it's the best rebound he's seen in 100 years. He actually said "100 years." I knew Mike Rice was old, but I didn't know he was that old.
-Portland scores against and now leads by nine.
-Wow, Russell Westbrook has the ball poked away, and the Blazers have a fastbreak until Nick Collison literally tackled LaMarcus Aldridge. Somehow, Collison was only called for a Flagrant 1 on the play. The Blazers announcers flipped out, and I'd transcribe the exchange, but it went something like "NICK COLLISON IS A DIRTY PLAYER, THROW HIM OUT OF THE GAME OF LIFE!" That's not exactly what they said, but you get the jist of it.
I'm making fun of the Blazers announcers, but that foul is pretty bad. It definitely should have been a Flagrant 2.
-Aldridge hits both free throws, then Camby tips in a Blazer miss. Blazers up 12. It's looking like this one is over. Enjoy the Lakers, OKC!
-Hold that thought - a Durant three and Collison layup cuts the Blazer lead to seven with a minute and a half left.
-Portland gets a good possession, as Martell Webster cuts backdoor and draws a foul on Jeff Green. "A good hard foul," Mike Rice says.
-OKC cuts the lead to six and looks like they'll get the ball back with a minute left, but Russell Westbrook steps out of bounds and the ball goes back to Portland. "He's out! Easy call!" Mike Rice explains. Mike Barrett quietly chuckles and goes for Rice's meds.
-The Thunder don't foul for some reason, and the Blazers miss a jumper. Kevin Durant gets the ball back, passes up two 40-foot threes and throws the ball out of bounds to the official. That'll officially do it. Thanks for having a great season, Oklahoma City Thunder. Enjoy playing the Lakers in the first round.
-Portland fans start chanting "MARCUS CAMBY" as Camby exits the game following a ridiculous game when his team needed it most. Good for him. Good for Blazers fans. Good for this team. For them to win 50 games in a season like this - I mean, holy crap. That's incredible.
-SB Nation's Andrew Sharp makes a good point: imagine if the Thunder will still in Seattle. Wouldn't this rivalry be even more amazing? That seems like a good thought to close this liveblog with. Hope you enjoyed it.
-DURANT. KOBE. It's the NBA Playoffs, coming up next!
-Marcus Camby just tipped in a miss for his 24th point, then stripped the ball from Eric Maynor (a point guard!) and dove on the floor to recover the ball. Oh, and he just dunked for his 26th point, forcing a Scott Brooks timeout.
Mike Rice's response? "He has 26 and 10? Ohhhh. Ohhhh. He's our man. (long pause). If he can't do it, no one can."
If Tom Heinsohn is your lovable, senile grandpa, then Mike Rice is your slightly less crazy great uncle.
-James Harden just salvaged a damaged possession with a great hesitation move and layup, on Nicolas Batum no less. Scott Brooks, I'm begging you, please let him play down the stretch.
-The Blazers force Kevin Durant to give it up, and Harden can't convert from three. This seems like an appropriate time to feature this video by Kevin Arnovitz on how Portland denied Kobe Bryant the ball last night. They're doing a great job again on Durant in the second half tonight.
-Durant responds with a ridiculous leaner to tie the game. Oh my goodness.
-After two Portland free throws, OKC runs a weird set that involves Jeff Green throwing some random shovel pass in the corner that's somehow retrieved by Westbrook, who then penetrates and bounces a tough pass to James Harden standing out of bounds in the corner. This is the sign of a young team. They sometimes just don't value the ball on key possessions.
-Foul trouble has helped, but credit OKC for holding LaMarcus Aldridge down all night. Jeff Green and Serge Ibaka have done their jobs.
-James Harden just hit an acrobatic layup over Juwan Howard to tie the game. He's so underrated. I really wish Scott Brooks would trust him enough to play him over Thabo Sefolosha sometimes.
-Down three after two big Jeff Green shots, the Blazers decide to run a post-up isolation for Juwan Howard. Howard gets pushed way out to 15 feet, makes a semi-move and bricks a 15-foot hook shot. Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, he is not. Luckily for Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge gets the rebound and hits two free throws, but hopefully this teaches Nate McMillan to not call any plays for Juwan Howard.
-Speaking of underrated players, Andre Miller really is something to behold. He just made a beautiful spin move to avoid the double team and hit a turnaround in the lane. One day, in 2030, I'll be talking to my son about how ridiculously underappreciated Miller was, and he'll roll his eyes and ask to play video games. Ten years later, intrigued by said statement, he'll go on the newly-redesigned Basketball Reference page and see that Miller was, indeed, underrated.
-Harden just hit another three. He's awesome. In fact, OKC's lineup of Maynor, Harden, Sefolosha, Green and I-Blocka is all sorts of awesome.
-My fed just cut out for a bit. Blame NBA League Pass.
-Big call here - Marcus Camby picked up his fourth foul pushing Serge Ibaka in the lane. Ibaka was probably camped in the lane for a bit too long, but it's also not the worst call in the world as Mike Rice would have you believe. I say that as a fan of Serge Ibaka, and not as an objective observer, so take my opinion for what it is.
Speaking of Camby, his faces really are funny during a game. Here's his reaction to that foul call.
Can't you see the F-bomb in progress?
-Portland misses a corner three, don't get the rebound, don't get back, Thunder get a runout and two free throws. Life can sometimes be a broken record, and so can NBA games.
-Camby is still in the game, by the way, and he's made a difference in Portland's half-court defense. In fact, Portland's really dominated this game in the halfcourt. If the NBA instituted a rule that forced teams to take the ball out of bounds even on missed shots, the Blazers would be the best team in the league. Unfortunately, they stink in transition, and OKC's been picking up freebies the entire game that way.
-Portland's TV crew has this cool feature that asks Blazers fans to send pictures of them in Blazers gear in exotic places in the world. It's a cool reminder that the Blazers have a really huge fanbase. The Wizards could do this if they wanted, but the only submission they'd get would be one from Gilbert Arenas from his halfway house.
-Crazy stat of the game - the Thunder have just six assists, and Westbrook doesn't have any. Their halfcourt offense really is just a series of isolations, most of which go to Durant. Remember this when you pick them to go far in the playoffs.
-I'm really trying to figure out if there's a home TV crew that complains more about foul calls than Portland's. Mike Rice literally just said that he wished Nate McMillan could show Leon Wood a stat sheet, because OKC has 32 free throw attempts to just nine for Portland. The alternate explanation is that OKC's getting a ton of transition freebies, and Portland is only shooting outside jumpers. But no, it's all because of referee bias.
-Speaking of, the TV crew just joked that Kevin Durant got called for a foul. It wasn't funny.
-At the end of the quarter, the Blazers double-teamed Durant, forcing Eric Maynor into a floater that missed. Jerryd Bayless grabbed the rebound and went coast-to-coast for the buzzer-beating layup to give Portland a two-point lead. I've never understood why more teams don't double Durant to take the ball out of his hands at the end of the quarter. Would you rather have Durant shooting, or Eric Maynor?
-With Brandon Roy and Greg Oden injured, the core of the Blazers is Andre Miller, Marcus Camby and LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge has done nothing tonight, because he's been in foul trouble, but Camby and Miller have combined for 26 of Portland's 43 points. Nice job by Portland's young guys, or not.
-Jeff Green shuffled his feet very blatantly on a pump fake. It's the second time he's done it tonight. For all the talk about Green being the prototypical role player, he does a lot of dumb things on the court, whether it's bad shots or obvious traveling violations. On the flip side, he plays great individual defense and has great on-court chemistry with Durant, so ... yeah, he's interesting, like so many of OKC's players.
-Portland zips ahead with eight straight points, the final two of which came after Nicolas Batum cut off the passing angle to Kevin Durant, stole the pass, tipped it to a teammate, then took a fullcourt pass and jammed it. Mike Rice says he can't believe Portland got back into the game. Mike Prada says he loves Nicolas Batum.
-Leon Wood calls a foul on Batum guarding Durant. Mike Rice jokes that referee Leon Wood is the answer to OKC's offensive woes in the third quarter.
-Andre Miller just hit a sweeping hook, prompting Rice to call Miller a "young [Kareem Abdul] Jabaar." Andre Miller is 34 years old. He's a young senior citizen, not a young Jabaar.
-Oklahoma City can run some really stagnant offensive sets, but none of that really matters if you have a guy like Russell Westbrook who can get into the lane at will. Rajon Rondo gets a lot of attention for being able to succeed without a jumper, but Westbrook largely gets overshadowed by Durant. This needs to change.
-Rudy Fernandez hits a three, and gets caught up in celebrating so much on the way back that Batum has to literally shove him toward his man on defense.
-Westbrook gets away from everyone in transition and ... BLOWS THE DUNK. "Boy, there's some mustard on that UCLA dunk," Rice exclaims. At the other end, Camby gets a three-point play, the Blazers lead by three and the crowd goes wild. Rice openly cheers. Oh jeez.
That's the picture of agony if you're a Thunder fan.
-Portland really needs to work on getting back. After an Andre Miller air ball, the Thunder grab a rebound and pitch it ahead to Kevin Durant. No Blazer is back instead of Marcus Camby, who fouls Durant. This has happened a lot in this game.
-Miller misses a layup, the Thunder get out really quickly, and Durant gets another layup. OKC leads by 12. For a team that does such a great job of controlling tempo (30th in pace), Portland's doing a shameful job in their transition defense. Someone needs to drop back whenever Miller drives to the basket.
-Mike Rice says Kevin Durant will lead the NBA in scoring for 10 years in a row, because LeBron James isn't interested in scoring. Mike Rice likes to engage in hyperbole. Mike Rice might still be right.
-It can really be breathtaking to watch OKC recover when they double team the post. Russell Westbrook doubles down on Juwan Howard, for some reason, but he still rushes to recover to contest Miller's last-second heave in the corner.
-The one guy who is playing a great game tonight for Portland is Marcus Camby. On this possession, he drives and draws the third foul on Nick Collison. Once again, this is a weird play from Camby, but it works, and it weakens OKC's already thin frontcourt. Camby has 11. "He's doing everything," says Rice.
-They just replayed Brandon Roy's comments before the game about his knee injury. They make me sad.
This led to this exchange.
Mike Rice (under his breath): "Can he play in the second half."
Mike Barrett: "No. But Patty Mills just got activated."
I think they were trying to be funny. They came across as part endearing, part obsessive, part, awkward.
-Jerryd Bayless comes back in and immediately resumes dribbling. This time, it works, as Martell Webster hits a three on the end of the possession to cut OKC's lead to five.
-Kevin Durant just slipped, but the refs called Martell Webster for the foul. (You don't even need to tell me that Mike Rice went ballistic). Durant goes to the line and hits both free throws. He now has 21 points on ... wait for it ... seven shots. In other words, he's averaging three points per shot attempt. Holy crap.
-The Thunder is full of idiosyncratic players, like Thabo Sefolosha, who has three points and six rebounds, and Russell Westbrook, their pogo-stick point guard. Westbrook drove down the lane and missed a contested shot over Juwan Howard, then somehow found a way to jump before all three Blazers around him to grab his own rebound.
-Alas, the Thunder get nothing, because Westbrook fumbled the ball trying to do some sort of crazy slam. The half ends with OKC leading 51-43. Marcus Camby and Andre Miller are playing well for Portland, but nobody else is. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant is kicking butt, as usual, and the Thunder are getting out in transition too much. Maybe Nate McMillan should put Patty Mills in the game, to just stand underneath his own hoop. That'll stop the Thunder!
-On second thought, Serge Ibaka fouled Howard. The Blazers announcers predictably beat down this fact.
-Eric Maynor was one hell of a find by the Thunder. They got him by keeping their cap space and finding a team willing to give away a good young player for cap relief. In this case, that was the Jazz, and Maynor's been the backup PG they desperately need. He just made a great hesitation move on Howard and drew a foul.
-Jerryd Bayless commits another turnover ("Bayless is not playing well," says Mike Rice, bluntly), and James Harden finishes it with a one-handed slam on the other end. Harden is really, really good, but nobody knows it because the Thunder limits his minutes. If he got the kind of shots Stephen Curry got in Golden State, he'd really compete for Rookie of the Year.
-Maynor just made another great hesitation move, this time on Miller, and finished this time. He's a basketball player. I'm Jon Gruden.
-Andre Miller comes back in, and the Blazers immediately cut the lead to seven. For some reason, though, they're really trying to run with the Thunder. Apparently they forgot that they're the slowest-paced team in the league and the Thunder are impossible to guard in transition.
-Martell Webster just made a strong move and got an AND-1. Once upon a time, Webster was the sixth pick in the draft. The Blazers traded down from the three spot, where they could have drafted Chris Paul or Deron Williams, to get him. Webster's battled some injuries (he actually turned an ankle here, though he's still playing), but he's still not that great. He also wears low-top shoes, according to Mike Barrett.
-Kevin Durant comes back in, forces a turnover, and then fed Serge Ibaka for an AND-1. Mike Rice claims Kevin Durant carried the ball. I like Rice, because he's a tamer version of Tommy Heinsohn, but he needs to quit it.
-Marcus Camby hits yet another jumper, causing Rice to remind us that, while Camby's shot isn't pretty, it does go in. Normally, it doesn't go in, but we'll let Rice blabber on all the same. Here's what Camby thinks of his jump shooting.
I think he's trying to say, "HEY GUYS, I KNOW MY JUMP SHOT LOOKS UGLY BUT YOUR FACE IS UGLY SO LEAVE ME ALONE!" I'm not sure, though.
-Scott Brooks calls timeout after a long stretch, with his team leading 42-34. Deep breath.
-Subs are in for both teams - Eric Maynor, James Harden and Serge Ibaka for OKC, Jerryd Bayless, Juwan Howard, Martell Webster and Dante Cunningham for Portland. I find OKC's subs interesting and Portland's boring. In particular, I love Serge Ibaka. We need a nickname for him that'll stick. I nominate "Iblock-A." I stink at creating nicknames.
-On one end, Kevin Durant did the whole wrap-around move with his arms and drew the foul on Martell Webster. Juwan Howard tried to do the same thing on Serge Ibaka and failed. The Blazers announcers go crazy, which would make sense if Ibaka actually fouled Howard. The lesson, as always, is this: Juwan Howard cannot do what Kevin Durant does. Juwan Howard seems shocked by this fact.
-All it takes is a couple bad possessions for Portland, and boom, 10-0 run Thunder. They're not a great offensive team outside of Durant, but if you waste possessions on offense, they'll kill you in transition and on cross matches. Durant's also hot, having hit yet another three pointer. Meanwhile, Bayless is overdribbling, which he tends to do, and no Blazer knows where to go.
-The Thunder are usually really good executing out of a timeout. This time, they run the "throw the ball to Kevin Durant and watch him hit an impossible contested three" play. It worked, as it always does. Bloggers and scribes will continue to praise Scott Brooks for his ability to draw up plays out of a timeout. It's pretty easy to do when you have Durant.
-Is there a more underrated player in basketball than Nicolas Batum. Last year, he just stood in a corner on offense, but this year, he's driving and making great plays around the rim. He just made a great drive and drop off to Marcus Camby for a dunk. The Blazers announcers celebrated this moment by nitpicking Batum's ability to finish in the lane.
-Holy crap, the Thunder get out in transition quick. Kevin Durant grabbed a rebound on a Miller missed and fired a 70-foot bullet pass to Thabo Sefolosha for a dunk to cut Portland's lead to three.
-Durant's passing has really improved this year. This time, he curls down the lane and pitches the ball to Jeff Green in the corner for three. Tie game.
-Marcus Camby had hit his first three jump shots, despite his ugly form. He tries a fourth and air balls it. He will not shoot another jumper again.
-Camby does, however, lead a fast break, which eventually leads to a LaMarcus Aldridge layup. Camby really is a fascinating player, and his presence has been a huge key in Portland's improvement in the second half of the season. But for a guy who supposedly is in there for defense, he sure tries to do a lot of other things.
-Nice, Juwan Howard is in! Time to watch more.
-The Blazers TV crew decided to interview an assistant coach about how big this game is. He gave mundane answers, just like a head coach. They will continue to do this to get “inside” access in the future. It will add nothing.
-Brandon Roy might be hurt, but Marcus Camby is excited. See, all is well, Blazers fans!
-It didn’t take long for the Blazers announcers to insinuate some referee bias. LaMarcus Aldridge got his shot block by Jeff Green on the first possession, and Nicolas Batum fouled Green on the subsequent fast break. Mike Barrett said Aldridge got “hit hard,” and Rice later joked about how the crowd knows referee Ed Wood. We’ll see more of this going forward.
-Marcus Camby has an ugly looking jumper. It went in that time.
-Russell Westbrook dives down the lane for two. Mike Rice says that moves like that are why he has over 600 points in the paint. Nice stat, Mike.
-As Mike Rice talks about how the Thunder’s great defense has slipped in the last couple weeks, LaMarcus Aldridge gets a dunk in transition when Jeff Green doesn’t get back. Rice says that’s very much unlike Green, and that John Thompson III, Green’s college coach, would really get on him for that. I think Rice was actually referring to the elder John Thompson.
-Mike Barrett: “Kevin Durant gets more whistles than any young player in recent memory.” Barrett forgot to mention that Kevin Durant is better than any young player in recent memory.
-A Batum three-point play and an Andre Miller fast break leads to an OKC timeout. The Blazers lead 15-8 and they’re doing it again without Brandon Roy. The Thunder are still stuck in their defensive funk from the last couple weeks.
Howdy folks. I'm Mike Prada, and I'll be providing live updates from tonight's Thunder-Blazers game. It's a big game, and yet, NBATV would rather show the Mavericks and the Clippers. Nice call, guys.
How do we know this game is big? There was a cool video montage to lead into Portland's local broadcast, featuring highlights of the Blazers all season. I've seen several Blazers games and haven't seen a montage like that before. Then again, I usually tune out the beginning.
The big news is that Brandon Roy could be out for a while with a knee injury. Portland's color commentator Mike Rice says the Blazers will be fine. Mike Rice is a hopeless optimist. I like Mike Rice. Lots of people don't. Meanwhile, Tim Potvak says Roy should give back his salary for not playing in the final two regular-season games.
Oh, and Nenad Kristic, Oklahoma City's starting center, is also injured. Tim Potvak says he should give away a portion of his $5.16 million salary. If you divide that by 82, then by 20,000, that means every fan should get an extra three dollars.
Aiming for the franchise's first 50-win season since finishing 52-30 in 2004-05 as the Seattle SuperSonics, the Thunder suffered a disastrous loss in Oakland last night when Monta Ellis returned from a seven-game absence with a bad case of the flu to score 15 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and lead the Golden State Warriors to a 120-117 comeback victory over Oklahoma City.
Kevin Durant scored 40 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out five assists but missed a potential game-tying three-pointer in the closing seconds for the Thunder, losers in three of their last four. Russell Westbrook chipped in 20 points and nine assists in the loss.
"We gave up 95 points in the last three quarters and they're going to win that game," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "I know our team very well. Can we beat a team that plays that fast? Absolutely, but it was their style."
The loss dropped Oklahoma City into a tie with the Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs for the bottom three seeds in the Western Conference but both of those teams hold tiebreakers over the Thunder as all three clubs try to avoid a first round matchup with the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.
If the Spurs can defeat Western Conference-worst Minnesota on Monday and Oklahoma City loses to the Trail Blazers tonight, the Thunder will be locked into the eighth seed.
Oklahoma City hosts Memphis in its regular season finale on Wednesday.
Martell Webster drilled three critical free throws with 3.1 seconds to play in that one and Portland's defense held off the Lakers' final attack in the victory at Staples Center.
LaMarcus Aldridge paced Portland with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Webster finished with 16 points in the Blazers' seventh win in nine games and first as the guest in this series since 2007.
"It was definitely hostile out there," Webster said. "That's the kind of atmosphere that will be there in the playoffs. There's a good chance we might be playing these guys in the first round."
Roy had only two points before sitting out the second half with a sore knee.
"We are hoping that it's not too serious," Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "We decided to hold him out and get some X-rays."
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