For the fourth and final time this season, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers played each other.
The Thunder evened the season series at 2-2 with a 98-95 win. Kevin Durant led the way with 36 points and 10 rebounds.
After the game, Durant and one of Portland’s All-Stars, LaMarcus Aldridge, had these comments:
“We respect this team, they respect us,” Durant said postgame. “But we don’t like this team and they don’t like us. That’s point blank.”
“We don’t care to like them,” Aldridge said when told of Durant’s quote. “We’re not trying to make friends out there. We’re trying to win games.”
There was a definite chippiness to last night’s game, especially when it came to the matchup between Durant and Nicolas Batum.
Despite Durant going off for 36, Batum made it tough on him and that was most evident down the stretch. Leading by a point, Batum’s tough defense on Durant caused the Thunder to turn the ball over on an inbound pass.
Batum had some high praise for KD afterwards.
“He is the best one-on-one player in the league now,’’ Batum said. “I used to say ‘Melo (Carmelo Anthony) but I say him now because he can score from everywhere. The post was his weakness but now he has it … I can’t say it was a weakness, he never had a weakness, but you didn’t have to think about it. He has that now.’’
I have thought for most of this season that Portland poses the toughest matchup for the Thunder in a potential playoff series.
The Thunder’s 2-2 season split with them is promising however given that Russell Westbrook only played in one of the four meetings.
As it stands now, the Thunder are atop the Western Conference standings and Portland is in the third spot behind San Antonio. The Trail Blazers are only a game ahead of both Houston and the Clippers.
The Thunder will play their final game before the All-Star Break Thursday night on the road vs. the Lakers.