Thunder fall back 2-0 with loss to Portland

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A 10-point lead evaporated in a blink of an eye and the Thunder were never the same. Oklahoma City lost 114-94 to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night to fall back 2-0 in the best of seven series.

Portland would outscore Oklahoma City 33-10 after Oklahoma City went up double digits. It started with a stupid foul. Damian Lillard was fouled on a three by Jerami Grant. It would change the game. CJ McCollum would nail a three at the end of the half, tying it up. The game might have been over at that point.

Oklahoma City’s ineptitude at shooting the three, the Portland adjustments that made Billy Donovan resemble the coach he was back at Marshall. Terry Stotts squashing any concerns Portland fans had about his job. The second half was nothing but a dumpster fire for the Thunder.

“I have to play better,” Russell Westbrook said. “I take full responsibility for tonight. The way I played was unacceptable.”

Westbrook went 5-of-20 from the floor and 1-of-6 from three was abysmal on both sides of the floor. He either was lazy getting up the floor due to non-calls or he committed stupid fouls due to frustration. It’s not a regular season game against the Phoenix Suns. This happened in a playoff game where the Thunder are now in a hole that only six other teams had climbed out of. None of which has happened since 2016, when Boston beat Chicago 4-2.

Westbrook finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists. He was pulled with 3:31 with most of his fellow starters after Portland built a 112-91 lead.

Paul George had 27 points despite lingering questions about his right shoulder, which was covered with kinesiology tape.

Oklahoma City started with a lot more energy than in Game 1, when it fell behind by 19 points in the first half. When Westbrook hit a 3-pointer in the first quarter, he pounded his chest and the Thunder went on to lead 31-26 at the end of the period.

Lillard hit a 3-pointer and was fouled to close the Blazers within 48-43. But the game began to get heated, with Lillard and Westbrook getting into it when Lillard tried to strip the ball. The officials reviewed it for a “hostile act” but concluded there were no fouls on the play. It was chippy for much of the game, and at one point Lillard and Steven Adams stared each other down after Adams set a screen on the All-Star guard.

Oklahoma City finished 5-of-28 from three. They’re 10-of-61 for the series. If you’re going to beat the Trail Blazers, let alone even compete with them in a seven-game series, you have to hit your threes. Lillard is 9-of-19 in the series, so the shooting shouldn’t be this close.

“For the most part, I think we got fairly decent looks and we’re going to have to take them,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said. “As the ball gets driven downhill, and teams bring help and protect the rim, you just can’t force the ball in there and take tough, ill-advised shots. And when the ball gets sprayed back out to the perimeter and guys are open, it’s hard to say, `OK, just drive it right back to the help again and hope they move out of the way.”

Game 3 is scheduled to tip-off at 8:30 p.m. Thunder Time on Thursday night at the ‘Peake. Oklahoma City is 4-0 all-time when they trail a series 2-0. They’re 1-3 overall in those series outcomes.

Keys to the Game

Playoff P: C

George was alright. He once again struggled from three and was largely ineffective in the second half. He didn’t get the open looks he was given in Game 1. However, there were some red flags on his shooting, the grabbing of the shoulder, etc. Oklahoma City needs George healthy.

Hustle Bestbrook: F

Westbrook said it best. This loss is on him. While this is a 5-of-5. It starts with Westbrook. He has to be and play smarter.

Rim Protection: C

Meh. They barely outrebounded a team that’s missing their best rebounded. They didn’t let Kanter get the best of them tonight but it didn’t matter. The Trail Blazers nailed all of the threes and more. Oklahoma City didn’t really need to protect the rim because Portland was too busy setting it on fire.

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