NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, December 31st
(All times Eastern)
Portland Trail Blazers (24-7) at Oklahoma City Thunder (25-5), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Two of the league's very best square off Tuesday night
when the Oklahoma City Thunder welcome the Portland Trail Blazers to
Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Thunder own the NBA's best record at 25-5, while the Blazers share the
third-best mark at 24-7. Portland trails OKC by 1 1/2 games in the ultra-
competitive Western Conference.
The Thunder head into this contest on fire and with vengeance on their minds.
They've won three in a row, 12 of the last 13 and 20 of their last 22 since
One of those two losses came at the hands of the Blazers on Dec. 4 in
On Sunday, the Thunder thrashed the Houston Rockets, 117-86 in Oklahoma City.
The Thunder held the Rockets to 0-for-12 from the field and started the game
on a 13-0 run.
"Defensively, I thought our guys really locked in," Thunder coach Scott Brooks
said. "We set the tone of the basketball game on the defensive end. When going
into the game we did not want to give up transition points or shots, and I
don't think they had many going into the fourth quarter."
Kevin Durant scored 33 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and dished out five
assists en route to yet another Western Conference Player of the Week honor.
Jeremy Lamb had 22 points off the bench for Oklahoma City, while Reggie
Jackson, who is starting in place of the injured Russell Westbrook, tallied 16
points with eight assists, and Thabo Sefolosha finished with 13 points for the
Thunder, who shot 57.3 percent from the field.
The Blazers are limping into Tuesday's contest the losers of two straight.
This is the first time all season the Trail Blazers have dropped consecutive
"We have 24 wins. Two consecutive loses aren't going to keep us down," said
guard Wesley Matthews. "We're going to make mistakes, but at the same time we
aren't going to act like this is the best we can do."
Portland fell at home to the two-time defending champion Miami Heat on
Saturday night, then lost in New Orleans to the Pelicans on Monday. The
Blazers lost by a combined three points in those two outings.
On Monday, the Blazers fell 110-108. It was the 18th consecutive time the
Blazers scored over 100 points, but it was also the ninth straight game where
they allowed 100 or more. (Portland leads the NBA in scoring at 108.6 ppg, but
is 27th in opponents' scoring at 102.9 ppg.)
Damian Lillard led the way for Portland against the Pelicans with 29 points on
5-for-8 shooting from long range. He leads the NBA with 97 3-pointers made
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 28 for the Blazers and moved into fifth on the
franchise's all-time scoring list. He is 40 points short of Jerome Kersey in
Matthews was the only other Blazer in double figures with 18 points.
Portland's victory on Dec. 4 snapped a seven-game losing streak to the
Thunder. The Blazers have dropped three straight in OKC and five of their last
six games there.
12/31 10:18:56 ET