Oklahoma City Thunder win sixth straight game

By Michael Kinney, The Sports Xchange

OKLAHOMA CITY - Although the Oklahoma City Thunder are known for their high-scoring, quick-strike offense, they are built on being physical and aggressive on the boards. The Portland Trail Blazers learned that during a 106-90 loss to the Thunder Wednesday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The Thunder owned a 48-34 scoring advantage in the paint and outrebounded the Blazers 51-47. Oklahoma City won its sixth straight game, the longest active winning streak in the league.


"They are very physical," Blazers forward Mason Plumlee said. "I think their inside players, they are focused on rebounding and they are focused on defending. When that is your mindset, you really have to lock in as the opposition and keep them off the glass. We didn't do a good job of that to start the game."


Forward Kevin Durant scored 24 points to lead Oklahoma City. He shot 8 of 14 from the field to go along with seven rebounds and four assists.

Six players for the Thunder scored in doubles figures. That included guard Dion Waiters, who came off the bench to pour in 18 points and grab six rebounds. Guard Russell Westbrook and forward Serge Ibaka each scored 13 points for Oklahoma City (17-8).

"We feel like we can get into the paint whenever we want," Durant said. "Our bigs did a good job of rebounding and finishing. We knew we could get anything we wanted if we were aggressive. In the second half we did that."

Guard CJ McCollum led the Blazers with 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Guard Damian Lillard added 20 points, and Plumlee scored 14 points in the loss.

"Oklahoma City played a very good game," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "They were aggressive offensively. Aggressive under the boards, aggressive in the paint and we were kind of behind them the whole night."

McCollum had the Thunder on their heels to start the game. He lit them up for 12 points in the first eight minutes, and he and Lillard combined to score 21 points in the first quarter.


The Thunder responded with a balanced scoring attack. Even though none of them hit double figures in the first half, six players scored at least six points as Oklahoma City took a 52-45 halftime advantage.

"I thought the first 21 minutes of that first half we played really well," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "They are a hard team to guard with McCollum and Lillard and their range and their ability to shoot it. I really thought our guys did a good job defensively tonight."

The second half was all about Oklahoma City's defense. After the fast start by Portland's backcourt, Lillard and McCollum were held to just eight points in the third quarter.

That left scoring duties to Plumlee. But Thunder centers Steven Adams and Nick Collison took turns getting physical with him and keeping him off the boards.

While Portland struggled to find consistent scoring, the Thunder had their pick of players to go to. But it was Durant who broke loose in the third quarter for 15 points. That included shaking Portland forward Allen Crabbe for a few midrange jumpers.

With the Thunder leading by 21 points at the end of the quarter, the Oklahoma City starters were done for the rest of the night.


Oklahoma City has now held seven straight opponents under 100 points.

"We are not a soft team," Plumlee said. "We will be ready next time. I think we kind of expected... we were looking for fouls early. And then once you realize this is how the game is, we adjusted. We will be better prepared. Nobody likes take a loss like this, but luckily we get to play them again."

NOTES: Oklahoma City F Kevin Durant was asked if he's trying to extend his range after launching 30-foot jumpers during shootaround. "I always have range when I step in the gym," Durant replied. ... Portland G Damian Lillard is impressed with the way that different players have contributed this season. "We've seen so many guys step up in different games," Lillard said. "(It) shows that down the line when we grow and kind of put this thing together a little bit more, we see what guys can do now so we see how it can payoff later." ... After committing 21 turnovers in a win over Sacramento, Oklahoma City averaged only 12.5 turnovers in its next four games before Wednesday. "I think we've been taking care of the ball the last five or six games," Thunder G Russell Westbrook said. "We're just doing a much better job of being conscious to take care of the basketball and that's giving us more opportunities to score and obviously taken away more chances for teams to score on us."


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