Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Westbrook said he had to player better after Game 2. He kept his word.

Westbrook scored 33 points, dished out 11 assists as Oklahoma City beat the Portland Trail Blazers 120-108 in Game 3 on Friday night.

With the win, the Thunder pull within 2-1 in the series.

“He’s a man of his words,” Paul George said. “He came out and led. We got behind him. He put us on his back.”

Oklahoma City led for most of the game and by as many as 16 in the contest. It was a drastic change from the first two games, where Oklahoma City had to overcome double digit deficits to get back into each contest.

“I keep playing the same way, being aggressive,” Westbrook said. “I pick my spots and concentrating and pick my spot and it’s over.”

The Thunder hit threes after not being able to hit any, basically, for the first two games of the season. Oklahoma City nailed 15 three-pointers, compared to just 10 in the first two combined. Five different players nailed two or more 3s. The Thunder finished 15-of-29 from the arc.

The 15 made threes by the Thunder tied a franchise playoff record.

“Those are shots we’ve gotten through the course of the first 2 games but we made them tonight,” Donovan said. “I thought we generated better shots for a full 48 minutes.”

Paul George added 22 points, Jerami Grant had 18 and Dennis Schroder 17 for the Thunder.

“They’ve been hitting shots all year,” Westbrook said. “Like I said in Game 1 and 2, we’ll continue to trust our teammates.”

Oklahoma City closed the second quarter on a 10-1 run to take a 49-39 lead at the break.

George hit a 3-pointer, was fouled and made the free throw in the opening minutes of the second half to push Oklahoma City’s lead to 55-43. Westbrook backed down Lillard, hit a bank shot and was fouled. Westbrook hit the jumper and the free throws, putting Oklahoma City up 15.

Lillard scored 25 points in the third quarter but the Thunder had a response for every throw the Blazers had. It was the will of a team with their backs against the wall. It was started by Westbrook, continued by the bench and finished by Westbrook.

“It was a great environment tonight, Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said. “We needed them tonight. The encouragement of the crowd really helped us get back on track.”

Oklahoma City is now 5-0 all-time when they go down 2-0. They’re 1-3 in those series when they do fall back 2-0.

The Thunder will host Portland in Game 4 of the series on Sunday, April 21 at 8:30 p.m. Tip-off will occur on ESPN and Fox Sports Oklahoma.

Keys to the Game

Good Russ: A+

Good Russell Westbrook was all over the place. Despite some struggles in his shooting early on, the Thunder needed all of good Russ for this one. Westbrook seemed to be in a zone in the second half. He dictated the pace of place and consistently kept Oklahoma City above water.

Role Players: A+

Jerami Grant and Dennis Schröder stepped up. They were pivotal for the Thunder’s lead throughout the second half. Oklahoma City needed Grant and Schröder in the worst way. They say role players play better at home. That was definitely true tonight.

Control turnovers: B

Oklahoma City turned it over 15 times for 13 Portland points. Oklahoma City had given up 16 points in the third of Game 2 off turnovers. The Thunder did a much better game in Game 3. They’ll have to carry that over to Game 4 if they’re going to level the series.

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Chuck Chaney

Founder & Editor-in-Chief.
Member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.