Dame time ends OKC’s season

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

In a game of runs, this run comes to an end for Oklahoma City.

The ending of the 2018-19 season came in a way that no one was surprised. Damian Lillard nailed a shot you knew was going in from the second he stepped back.

Oklahoma City lost 118-115 to lose the series 4-1. Sure, the Lillard shot will be what will go down in the history books. However, what will not be told is how the Thunder put the Blazers in that position.

Oklahoma City was outscored 13-2 down the stretch. Paul George missed two free throws and had his pocket picked in the final two minutes. Russell Westbrook was called for a questionable charge call and took an ill-advised shot with 15 seconds left at the rim. A shot any other time we wouldn’t question but with the game on the line and how the momentum had changed, we sit here pondering the alternatives.

Oklahoma City went up 105-90 with 7:45 left on Dennis Schroder’s pull up jumper. A 30-6 run at this point, it appeared the Thunder had thwarted a tough Lillard performance to push Oklahoma City into a Game 6. It had all the makings of the comeback against Utah the previous season.

“Very disappointing,” Westbrook said.

All-in-all, the Thunder did almost everything right on a night that felt weird. Oklahoma City shot a billion percent, estimating, in the first half. Lillard went bananas but the Thunder led for a majority of the game. It was just what Dame did to the Thunder is what we can think of.

“He made big shots,” George said. “Tip my hat to the shots he mad. But it was his night. He felt it. He knocked them down.”

It was the third time in the five games Oklahoma City held a double digit lead against Portland. It’s the first time Oklahoma City has lost in the playoffs scoring at least 115 points in franchise history.

George gave it all. For all of his postseason failures in his OKC tenure, the George showed up and showed out in Game 5. George scored 34 points on 14-of-20 shooting. He finished 5-of-8 from the free throw line.

It was the 12th straight road playoff loss for the Thunder, who have been eliminated in the opening round for three straight seasons. They have not won a road game since Game 1 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals.

Westbrook was a catalyst for the Thunder’s 30-6 run in the third and fourth quarters, but struggled offensively and turned it over a bunch.

The Thunder went up 22-12 early, and George made his first six shots from the floor. Oklahoma City held a 37-29 lead at the end of the first quarter, but Lillard led all players with 19 points. CJ McCollum got into foul trouble and headed for the bench.

The Thunder will go back to the drawing board and try to figure out how to get out of the first round. First, you’ll step up and address the disadvantages the roster has and then go forward. It’s becoming a make-or-break year for Sam Presti.

Keys to the Game

Be the better duo: C

Was Russ-George the better duo? It’s hard to say. I think this was negated by Dame and George’s really good games. CJ and Russ had their moments. You don’t want this to be in question. You had to win this battle, and going even doesn’t do that.

Attack Portland’s Bigs: F

Portland had 54 points in the paint. They had 19 second chance points. They had 13 offensive rebounds and did everything they wanted. Oklahoma City never really were able to get a place on the glass. That’s really a bad deal you giving up 13 points and 13 rebounds to Enes Kanter. Steven Adams finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds. Woof.

Do the little things: C

Oklahoma City did the little things on average. Which if we did the numbers outside of the final six minutes of the game, maybe the Thunder win this category but you don’t want to win the first 42 minutes. You’re trying to win the whole dang 48 minutes.

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