After an uneven first half, Kevin Durant and the shorthanded Oklahoma City Thunder seized control in the third quarter of Sunday night's game against the Portland Trail Blazers before barely holding on late for an 87-83 victory at the Rose Garden.
Durant scored 13 of his team-high 33 points during a huge third quarter that saw the Thunder (29-8) outscore the Blazers 26-16. Durant shot 12-of-21 overall from the field and only missed two two-point shots on the night. Durant's huge night was nearly not enough, as Portland (23-17) stormed back from 10 down in the fourth quarter only to see LaMarcus Aldridge air-ball a potential game-tying attempt in the waning moments.
Oklahoma City burst out of the gates quick and held a lead after the first quarter, but their normally high-powered offense struggled throughout the second quarter. Portland took advantage, grabbing a 43-42 lead at the break before Durant's big second half and the Blazers' late comeback attempt.
The Thunder nabbed the victory despite playing without normal starters Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha, while also dealing with an exceptionally poor shooting game from Russell Westbrook. The point guard did nearly notch a triple-double with 18 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, but he shot just 5-of-21 from the field. DeAndre Liggins, starting in place of Sefolosha, had 11 points and nine rebounds.
Aldridge had a monster game for Portland in defeat. Aldridge finished with 33 points and 11 rebounds on 15-of-26 shooting. Nicolas Batum was the only other Blazer to score in double figures, pouring in 21 points. Portland shot just 36.0 percent.