Basketball

Alridge, Lillard lead Trail Blazers over Thunder in a showdown

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By AFP

Posted  Thursday, January 2  2014 at  02:00

In Summary

NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant scored a game-high 37 points, including 22 in the first half.

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OKLAHOMA CITY.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds while Damian Lillard added 21 points and 11 assists to power Portland over Oklahoma City 98-94 in a showdown of NBA powers on Tuesday.

Bouncing back after back-to-back losses, the Trail Blazers beat the Thunder for the second time in as many meetings this season, improving to 25-7. “We had two tough losses. The guys could have just layed down tonight but we kept fighting,” Aldridge said. “Oklahoma City fell to 25-6, still the best record in the Western Conference just ahead of Portland, but the loss left Indiana with the NBA’s best record at 25-5.

NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant scored a game-high 37 points, including 22 in the first half on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor, and grabbed 14 rebounds and Spain’s Serge Ibaka added 17 points.

But neither of them hit a shot from the floor in the fourth quarter when the Trail Blazers rallied to win.
“In the first half we couldn’t stop him but we just kept going at it,” Aldridge said of Durant.
“We felt like if we just stayed the course those guys would start missing shots and our offense would come on.” Aldridge said he was able to score despite the Thunder getting physical in defending against him.

“That might have worked six years ago but now I’m much older, much stronger,” Aldridge said. “I can take it.” The Thunder, who led by as many as 16 points in the second half but suffered their biggest blown lead of the season, missed nine shots in a row in the fourth quarter during a 14-2 Portland run.

The Trail Blazers grabbed their first lead of the second half at 87-86 on two LaMarcus Aldridge free throws that capped that spurt.

Reggie Jackson lofted in a basket from the paint but Frenchman Nicolas Batum sank a 3-pointer for Portland to give the Trail Blazers a 90-88 lead. Wesley Matthews scored for Portland to offset 1-of-2 free throw efforts by Jackson and Ibaka. Then Robin Lopez added two free throws for the Trail Blazers for a 94-90 edge with just under one minute remaining.

Tuesday’s NBA results

Magic 81-94 Warriors
Rockets 106-110 Kings
Spurs 113-92 Nets
Bulls 79-85 Raptors
Thunder 94-98 Blazers
Lakers 79 -94 Bucks