LaMarcus Aldridge scored 30 points and led the Blazers in scoring and to the free throw line, making 10 out of 12 of his attempts there, assisting Portland to a hefty 36-21 advantage at the stripe and his team to a 103-93 win over the Thunder in Oklahoma City Tuesday night.
Aldridge got down to business all through the night on pick and roll plays as well as posting up, scoring his game-high 30 points on 10-19 shooting and pitching in eight rebounds to help keep Oklahoma City off the offensive glass.
The Thunder, who have now lost two in a row after beginning the year 5-0, got off to a good start by having active hands defensively and scoring in transition. When they weren't doing that, they attacked on the pick and roll, and wrapped up the first half shooting over 50 percent and enjoying a two point lead over their guests.
In the second half, however, the momentum shifted and the Blazers maintained their steady shooting while the Thunder faded badly.
Aldridge, Raymond Felton and Wesley Matthews combined to shoot 8-16 in the third quarter, playing large factors in a 13-4 run that finally wrestled the lead from Oklahoma City. Another 17-7 run in the fourth quarter led by Gerald Wallace (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Nicolas Batum put the game away for good. Batum put up excellent numbers off the bench with 12 points on eight shots, seven rebounds in 24 minutes, two blocked shots and two big three-point baskets in that fourth quarter run.
As for what happened to the Thunder, one need only look at the struggles that Kevin Durant had from the field. Durant misfired jump shot after jump shot, shooting 8-26 for the game, 1-7 from three point range and 3-13 in the second half when the Thunder lost control of the game.
Dave at Blazer's Edge has seen Durant look bad against Portland before, and pulls no punches in pointing it out:
I'm not sure what the heck is wrong with Durant but he always seems to do this against the Blazers. He gets completely lazy, settling for long jumpers over and over. It's not like he tried to get inside and got stymied. He was actually successful the few times his feet touched paint. I don't know if he's so brilliant that he considers a long jumper as easy as a layup but if so, he needs to get dumber real quick. Dude was 8-26 on the night, 1-7 from distance, and only attempted 4 foul shots. As those free throw attempts indicate, that's not as much Portland's defense as him utterly failing to test Portland's defense. Whatever he's thinking, I'm sure the Blazers are glad that's his mindset.