Thunder continue strong play, get fourth straight win in Portland 109-95

Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE

The Thunder are playing their best basketball of the season right now. In their last game they beat the Miami Heat 103-87 and tonight they go on to the road to beat Portland 109-95.

Oklahoma City looked like the best team in the West tonight while Portland looked like a bunch of guys who haven’t been getting much run lately. The Thunder did anything they wanted and got good looks every possession it seemed.

In the first half, Oklahoma City shot 65.9 percent from the floor and led 65-48. Kevin Durant and James Harden did not miss a shot in the first two quarters and had a combined 26 points. Harden also had five assists.

It was the Russell Westbrook show in the next half and especially the third quarter when he put on quite a display scoring 10 points in a three minute span making five straight field goals.

Last game we saw Westbrook struggle some in his matchup with Dwyane Wade but tonight whatever defense Portland put on Westbrook was irrelevant. He finished with 32 points to go along with eight assists, seven of which came in the first half.

Durant finished with 25 points and Harden had 21. Harden has scored 40 points in his last two games and gone 12-of-14 from the field.

Oklahoma City’s offense has been on another level lately. They scored 149 points against Minnesota last week, shot 66.7 percent in the first half versus the Miami Heat and tonight shoot 57 percent for the game in Portland. Their assists are up and turnovers are down.

Serge Ibaka anchored yet another solid defensive attack tonight for the Thunder, blocking six shots and pulling down 12 rebounds.

Scott Brooks spoke of how much better the Thunder look defensively when they simply get into their defensive stances. The return of Thabo Sefolosha and signing of Derek Fisher may be helping this because the change in their defensive intensity these past few games has been noticeable better.

Oklahoma City (38-12) will be off tomorrow night before traveling to take on the Los Angeles Lakers (30-19) in Staples Thursday night. The game will air on TNT at 10:30 p.m. EST.

Topics: Derek Fisher, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Scott Brooks, Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha, Thunder Vs Blazers

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  • JackWinter

    Ibaka’s been getting a lot of attention for his defensive exploits from the general NBA public as well as some national writers recently as postseason awards discussion heats up.  As someone who religiously watches OKC, do you think he deserves consideration for DPOY? Personally, I just don’t see it.  He’s the league’s best shot blocker, yes, but still isn’t a consistently great rebounder and has more to learn in terms of understanding help, angles, and the like.  He obviously has the physical tools to become a perennial contender for DPOY, I just think he’s probably a year away from that.

  • akennedy41

    Yeah I agree that he probably isn’t the best defender in the NBA this season. But he is the best shot blocker by a good margin and has some nights where his impact is just huge. I agree that he definitely needs to get better as a rebounder and a lot of that will come with better discipline at which shots he goes after to block.
     
    I do think that the bets shot blocker in the NBA should probably always be in the conversation for DPOY because blocks really are valuable especially from a demoralizing stand point. Ibaka tends to get his blocks in bunches within a game and it will change the way a team plays the rest of the game because he sets the tone early.
     
    Some of the Thunder players will also noticeably lead the man they are guarding into a drive in Ibaka’s direction. So I think his value is a little underrated from some of the criticism of Ibaka I have been hearing but if I was to think of the best defender in the NBA right now, I don’t think I’d pick Ibaka.
     
    And of course in a year or two I would be very surprised if he doesn’t blossom into one of the best defenders in the NBA.

  • blakepotash

    He also tends to bite on pump fakes a lot, that’s why Al Harrington was able to do well against the Thunder. Similarly against the Rockets, when a team goes small, and he has to go out and guard a wing, like Chandler Parsons, he isn’t polished in that area of the game. If he gets a smart defensive coach, and a little more time, he can be an All-Defense type of player, but he isn’t there yet.

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