(Sports Network) - The Oklahoma City Thunder are fighting to get that No. 1
seed in the Western Conference and will try to make up ground Sunday when they
host the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Thunder, last season's Western Conference champions, trail the San Antonio
Spurs by 2 1/2 games for supremacy out west. OKC has already clinched a
playoff spot, but the surging Denver Nuggets have made things interesting in
the Northwest Division.
Denver, by virtue of its victory Saturday, its 15th in a row, is just 2 1/2
games behind the Thunder for the division lead.
The Thunder stemmed a two-game losing streak on Friday with a road victory in
Orlando over the Magic. Orlando had a chance late, but the Thunder's defense
was too much. OKC closed the game on an 8-1 run to preserve the 97-89 victory.
"I like the way we started and I liked the way we finished, with a defensive
mindset," head coach Scott Brooks said. "Every possession was intense and
focused defensive basketball. Offensively, they were switching and they were
moving us around a little bit. I thought the first and fourth quarters were
The Thunder held the Magic to 14 points in the first quarter and 23 in the
Kevin Durant led a balanced scoring attack with 25 points. Russell Westbrook
chipped in 19 points and Serge Ibaka, Kevin Martin and Nick Collison all
scored in double figures.
The Thunder are 30-5 at home, which is the third-best home mark in the Western
Conference. They may need all the good home vibes they can find because the
Blazers have been great of late.
After starting their five-game road trip 0-2, the Blazers have won their last
two. The victories came over the playoff-bound Chicago Bulls on Thursday and
another postseason team, the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.
The Blazers, strengthened by 28 points from Wesley Matthews, broke the game
open late in the third quarter and throughout the final frame. Portland bested
Atlanta, 31-17, in the fourth to win 104-93.
"That was a quality road win against a very good playoff team," Portland coach
Terry Stotts said. "Very pleased with our defense, particularly in the second
half and for most of the game. For us to have back-to-back wins like this, at
Chicago and Atlanta on the road, to do it with some defense, and some timely
shooting, I'm very proud of my team."
Damian Lillard had 22 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 points and 13
rebounds. J.J. Hickson contributed yet another double-double with 15 points
and 10 rebounds.
Portland shot 55.6 percent from beyond the arc and only played three guys off
its bench. Will Barton was one of them and he only saw slightly more than four
The Blazers still have faint playoff hopes. They are 2 1/2 games behind the
Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final postseason berth out west.
The Sports Network