Lillard’s clutch shooting extends win streak in OKC, 115-104

by Kevin Nesgoda

When the going gets tough, Damian Lillard gets going.

Portland certainly didn’t make it easy on themselves, but the Blazers are now winners of their last five games, and they have five more to go on this long road trip.

Game Recap

With less than two minutes to go and the shot clock winding down, Dame stepped back once more from the clingy Lu Dort to splash a clutch deep three. Are we even surprised?

A kick-out to a Robert Covington three and one more bomb from Dame sealed the win.

The Thunder scored the first five points of the fourth quarter, storming their way back into a one-possession game by the eight-minute mark in the fourth.

With 5:40 left, Dort’s triple gave Oklahoma City a one-point lead. Just like that, a 24-point third quarter lead had collapsed.

Gary Trent Jr. made a crucial five-point swing late in the game by forcing a backcourt violation on Diallo and splashing a three. These events were sandwiched by a pair of Dame step-back triples to reclaim the lead.

The Blazers held a 34-21 lead at the end of the first quarter, spearheaded by Damian Lillard’s 12 points and Enes Kanter’s seven boards. OKC was held to just 30% from the field.

Dort’s tireless effort helped bring the Thunder back within 13 with an 11-0 run in the third quarter, much to the dismay of Terry Stotts. This was after the Blazers owned a 24-point lead earlier in the quarter.

Young Guns

Anfernee Simons made his first three threes, giving the Blazers a 16-point lead to start the second quarter, although he did pick up his third personal foul midway through that same period. He finished the first half with a then-game-high 15 points on 5/6 from behind the arc.

Ant wasn’t the only Blazer in some first-half foul trouble—Dame picked up his fourth personal late in the second quarter. But the young Ant did eventually foul out with 7:40 left in the game.

Simons was one of a few notable young players to have exceptional performances. Nassir Little stepped up off the bench early to hit his first four shots, including two threes. His third was a bone-shattering slam over Isaiah Roby.

Gary Trent added 19 points as one of six Blazers in double-figures (interestingly enough, that list did not include Kanter).

Tough Love

The Portland Trail Blazers (now 17-10, 5th in West) entered this matchup with a four-game win streak after a close win in Dallas two nights prior. The Oklahoma City Thunder (now 11-16, 12th in West), meanwhile, were coming off an impressive win over the Bucks without a few key players.

Both teams entered Wednesday’s game ravaged by Injuries. Oklahoma City was missing star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, George Hill, Trevor Ariza, and Theo Maledon; while the Blazers were without Jusuf Nurkic, CJ McCollum, Rodney Hood, Zach Collins, and Harry Giles.

Lillard banged knees with Dort while driving in the third, prompting understandable panic from Blazer fans and neutrals alike. The soon-to-be-All-Star rolled over and took his time getting up to make his free throws, but stayed in the game. A minute later, it was Melo’s turn to walk it off after landing awkwardly from a fadeaway.

Stats & Notes

Derrick Jones made a larger scoring impact than usual, notching 13 points on 4/9 from the field.

Darius Bazley scored seven of the Thunder’s first 10 points—not bad for a guy averaging just under 12 per game. He finished with 14 points on 4/16 from the field.

Next Up

The Blazers will face another important Western Conference bout tomorrow night in New Orleans at 6pm.

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