Blazers, Thunder tussle in OKC

9:44 AM, Jan 21, 2014   |    comments
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( - Two of the NBA's very best hook up on Tuesday night as Northwest powers, the Portland Trail Blazers visit the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The two teams sit tied atop the Northwest Division and just a game behind the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the Western Conference.

The Blazers head into Tuesday's tilt after a rough outing in Houston on Monday. Portland got pummeled, 126-113, to halt an impressive five-game winning streak.

"It's one of those games where they're an explosive team and they made their 3's tonight," said Portland coach Terry Stotts. "Some of that was on us, but I give Houston credit. They did what they do very well. They got to the rim, they got out in transition, they hit their 3's and Dwight (Howard) was great in the paint. When they're playing like that, they are a dynamic offensive team."

The Rockets established a season-high with 126 points, shot 52 percent from the field and 48 percent from long range. The Blazers got creamed on the glass, losing the rebound margin by 15.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points and pulled down 20 boards, outrebounding the rest of his team by three. It was his third game of 20-plus points and rebounds. No other player in the league has more than one.

Damian Lillard poured in 24 points and his 131 made 3-pointers are the most by a player at the halfway point of his season in NBA history.

Wesley Matthews finished with 18 for the Trail Blazers and Robin Lopez added 13. Nicolas Batum injured his finger and his availability for Tuesday is unknown.

The Thunder wait for the Blazers well-rested having not played since a 108-93 home win Sunday against the Sacramento Kings.

Kevin Durant tallied 30 points and nine assists en route to winning Western Conference Player of the Week honors. Durant shot 10-of-15 from the floor and added six rebounds and four steals as an encore to his career-best 54 points in Friday's win over Golden State.

The 25-year-old has picked up his play of late with Russell Westbrook sidelined, averaging a league-high 36.1 points in the month of January. Durant has scored 30-plus in seven straight and the Thunder are now 8-5 since Westbrook underwent knee surgery.

"KD is a special player," said Thunder head coach Scott Brooks. "Some nights he's going to have a high-scoring game. I just like the way he thinks. He thinks about the team. He had nine assists tonight. He took 15 great shots and made 10 of them."

Serge Ibaka donated 20 points in the Thunder's third straight victory. Reggie Jackson scored 16 points, while Thabo Sefolosha, Nick Collison and Jeremy Lamb all had 10.

The Blazers have won both of this season's matchups, including one in Oklahoma City on New Year's Eve. The Thunder had won seven in a row and 10 of 12 prior to this season.

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