Page last updated on Wed Mar 04 21:36:00 EST 2015
11/03/2012 1:22 AM EDT
Thunder beat Blazers 106-92 in home opener
OKLAHOMA CITY 106, PORTLAND 92
By JEFF LATZKE
AP Sports Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- So far, Kevin Martin considers it an easy
transition into James Harden's old role as the Oklahoma City
Thunder's top bench player.
Having two All-Stars to work with can make it look that way.
Russell Westbrook scored 32 points, Kevin Durant had 23 points
and 17 rebounds and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Portland
Trail Blazers 106-92 on Friday night to win their fourth
straight home opener.
Martin added 19 points, hitting a 3-pointer and a runner during
an 11-2 spurt that extended the Thunder's lead to 95-81 with
4:05 remaining. Durant had the assist on both baskets.
"They have to pick their poison when it comes to us," Martin
said. "We're both used to putting up numbers in this league, so
they're going to take him and he's going to make the easy pass
to me or ... they took me and then I made the pass to him.
"We can read off each other very well."
LaMarcus Aldridge led Portland with 22 points and 15 rebounds
and first-round pick Damian Lillard followed a sizzling debut
with 21 points and seven assists. The Trail Blazers shot 36
percent and were unable to follow up their surprising opening
win against the Los Angeles Lakers.
"We competed for most of the game," first-year Blazers coach
Terry Stotts said. "We had a hard time putting the ball in the
Oklahoma City bounced back from an opening loss at San Antonio
that at least temporarily shifted the focus off Harden's
departure. The NBA's Sixth Man of the Year was traded to Houston
on Saturday night, shaking up the Thunder's second line before
they could even play a game after making it to the NBA Finals.
He wasn't missed as much in this one.
Oklahoma City led throughout the second half, but twice allowed
Portland to get within one point late in the third quarter.
Lillard's right-handed floater got the Trail Blazers within
64-63 with 3:04 left in the period, before Durant hit a free
throw and Nick Collison got free for a two-handed dunk.
The Thunder never looked back, finishing with a 44-24 scoring
advantage in the paint and a 23-6 edge on the fast break.
"We just ran the floor better. A lot of guys finished a lot
better around the basket. That got us easy points," said
Westbrook, who was 13 for 24 from the field and had six assists.
Durant ended up with a full stat line, finishing one shy of his
career best in rebounds to go with seven assists and six of the
Thunder's 12 turnovers while dabbling at the point guard.
Collison was Oklahoma City's only other player in double
figures, with 12 points. He dived to save a ball from going out
of bounds on one baseline, getting it to Westbrook, who whipped
it ahead to help Durant earn two free throws.
"I saw the ball and was able to get after it quick," Collison
said. "I feel good. I feel like I'm reacting well. I feel like
I'm really locked into the game.
"Those are the type of plays you can make if you're really
locked in mentally, where you can just go get it and react."
The sequence finished off the Thunder's big fourth-quarter run
and effectively put the game away.
"We got enough stops. That was big. We finally were getting some
stops and created some separation," Collison said.
Wesley Matthews chipped in 17 points and J.J. Hickson
contributed 14 points and 12 rebounds, seven on the offensive
end, for Portland. Lillard, who joined Oscar Robertson and Isiah
Thomas as the only players with at least 20 points and 10
assists in an NBA debut, had seven assists and two turnovers.
"It's not really about how I play," said Lillard, the No. 6 pick
in this year's draft. "It's more about the team making a few
more shots to get the win."
Durant scored seven points in the middle of an 11-0 run as the
Thunder recovered from an early deficit to take a 24-18 lead
after Martin's jumper from the left wing, his first basket at
home with his new team.
Portland rallied to go ahead briefly with the first eight points
of the second quarter, only for Martin to hit a 3 and start a
7-0 response that put Oklahoma City back on top to stay.
"When you talk about chemistry with our group, you haven't been
around our group," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "James was a
good player but it wasn't Dr. James. He wasn't helping the group
stick together. All the guys do that."
As a group, the Thunder bench outscored Portland's reserves
"You have to have a punch coming off the bench. I think that's
one of our biggest strengths right now," Martin said.
"We've just got to keep on jelling as a group and help the first
unit when they need a little rest."
NOTES: Durant had 12 points and 10 rebounds in the first half.
It was only the second time in his career that he had a
double-double by halftime. The other time came March 9, 2011,
against Philadelphia. He said afterward that he has set a goal
of averaging a double-double this season. ... The Houston at
Oklahoma City game on Nov. 28, marking Harden's only return to
Chesapeake Energy Arena of the season, was picked up by NBA TV
on Friday. The network also dropped its coverage of a
Portland-Oklahoma City rematch on Jan. 13 and added Tuesday's
Thunder-Raptors game. ... Rookie Jeremy Lamb, one of Oklahoma
City's acquisitions in the trade for Harden, entered late and
hit a 3-pointer for his first NBA points.
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