Damian Lillard leads wild Blazers comeback in Oklahoma City 115-111 in OT
Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers came out on top in a wild point guard match-up against Russell Westbrook 115-111 in overtime in Oklahoma City. A sick LaMarcus Aldridge played 45 minutes and scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
The Blazers comeback would not have been were it not for a boneheaded series of plays from Westbrook. Westbrook was the biggest reason the Thunder were winning but a useless personal foul in the backcourt coupled with a technical allowed the Blazers to cut the lead to seven with no time coming off the clock.
Then Lillard came down and hit a deep three off a screen. In the blink of an eye the lead went from 10 to four.
Aldridge made a couple of spectacular plays on the offensive end even though he looked a step slow all game long still showing some effects from the illness that kept him out last night.
Aldridge and Lillard combined for 32 of Portland’s final 42 points.
Westbrook also split a pair of free-throws which opened the door for Lillard to give Blazers fans a little deja vu for the holidays. And he also wanted to let the Thunder know what time it was.
After looking at the play a couple of times, it looked like the Thunder were instructed to switch as Roberson and Westbrook switched when Matthews set a screen for Lillard. Dame came hard around the Aldridge pick and Roberson got caught around it. Ibaka was late to get out to Lillard and you know the rest.
Wesley Matthews was a desperately needed cog in the comeback effort. He scored 8 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and overtime including a couple of huge 3’s.
Westbrook also had an opportunity to win the game but missed a chance to end it in regulation.
Another key to Portland’s success late was head coach Terry Stotts decided to match the Thunder’s 3-guard line-up with Steve Blake and bring in more athleticism in Dorell Wright. Wright didn’t play since his crucial role in Friday’s 3OT win against the Spurs.
Wright didn’t have the 3-point barrage he had against San Antonio but grabbed some crucial rebounds and had a nice tip in in overtime to give the Blazers breathing room.
The Blazers capped off an incredibly successful trip with wins against the Spurs, Pelicans and Thunder without Robin Lopez and getting two of those without Nicolas Batum. The Blazers are nearing the end of a grueling December which had 10 of 16 games on the road. The Blazers are through the toughest part of the month with games against the two worst teams in the league in Philadelphia and New York.
The Blazers are succeeding when schedules and injury continue seem to say they shouldn’t. Lillard continues to make the case that he should be considered at the very top of any discussions about the league’s top point guards.
And with 7 of the next 10 days off, the Blazers have earned a considerable amount of rest. They are banged up and sick and certainly need it. Although Lillard and Matthews have played every night, you could tell with the amount of miscommunications the Blazers had tonight they were running out of gas.
The Blazers stole the win but Lillard, Aldridge and co. gave it their all to make an improbable comeback.
- CBSSports.com’s Matt Moore has a great side-by-side comparison of the Lillard shot from Tuesday and his game-winner against the Rockets. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=650BMJQILQ4&w=560&h=315]
- The Blazers were in danger of losing a game in which they shot 17-of-31 from the 3-point line. That’s absurd! The Thunder were throwing double teams all over the court and they tried to push the tempo against a tired Blazers squad. But it led to a lot of open 3’s and the Blazers cashed in. The Thunder had 54-24 points in the paint advantage.
- Steve Blake came through again for the Blazers. This guy has done everything the Blazers have needed and more. He had five assists and guarded Westbrook a lot down the stretch. Westbrook was four-of-nine from the field in the final five minutes of the game and overtime. Just for comparison’s sake, Lillard scored 18 points in the same amount of time on four-of-seven shooting.
- The Blazers will have both Christmas Eve and Christmas off after finishing a brutal four-game-in-five-nights trip 3-1. This would have been a huge result for Portland even if they were fully healthy. To do it without Lopez and Batum in two of the games truly is an early Christmas gift.
- Here’s a fan video from the arena in Oklahoma City of the Lillard shot. Hat-tip to @pinwheelempire on twitter. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_igTaFPpRPg&w=560&h=315]
- In addition to games against the Sixers and Knicks, the Blazers have seven of the next 10 days off. They will be home for nearly 20 consecutive days with a slate of Eastern Conference opponents and the lowly Los Angeles Lakers. The Raptors and the Hawks are good teams the Blazers will have to face during that stretch but they’ve got to be feeling good with some rest ahead of them.
- CJ McCollum looked good for the second game in a row. He made two 3-pointers and played some pretty good defense while he was out there.
- Reggie Jackson had a solid game for the Thunder with 21 points. He actually shot an identical percentage as Westbrook but took half the amount of shots.