Nerlens double-double powers OKC by Portland

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Thunder built an 18-point lead and everything appeared to be going to form. They would blow the lead, melt down in the third quarter. Damian Lillard would catch fire and everyone would srhug their shoulders as if we are to accept the outcome.

Except, the Thunder didn’t do that. They may have lost the lead but they overcame Lillard’s big third quarter to hold the lead after three. They pushed the lead back to double digits.

In the end, Oklahoma City beat the Trail Blazers 108-96 on Sunday night to start their West coast road trip in the best way.

The Thunder are now 10-12 on the year. With the win, Oklahoma City moves to seventh in the Western Conference playoff race.

Oklahoma City overcame so many of their early season woes in one game. In just days after the Trail Blazers hit their first approximately 1,000 shots against Oklahoma City, the Thunder forced Portland to miss 12-of-13 shots in the middle of the first quarter.

Dennis Schröder got the ball rolling for the Thunder in the second quarter. He hit two threes and an old fashioned, three-point play, pushing Oklahoma City into a double digit advantage. The lead grew as Nerlens Noel and others chipped in.

Before the Blazers really found their footing, the Thunder had built a 49-31 lead with just over four minutes left in the half.

Portland made a runoff two threes from Lillard. The Thunder held off the run, which would be one of a few, and controlled the halftime scoreboard 55-47.

Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Portland made their final run throughout the third. Lillard got hot but Oklahoma City found an answer every time the Blazers and Lillard did anything of value.

Then as if it was a switch that was flipped Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stepped up and made some buckets after struggling for a majority of the game. Danilo Gallinari did the same. SGA had 14 points in the final frame and Gallinari hit a big three that helped OKC keep their distance from the surging Blazers.

SGA finishes with 21 points. Schröder had 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-4 from deep. Nerlens Noel had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Oklahoma City plays the Utah Jazz Monday night in Salt Lake City. Their 8.5-point underdogs and it already feels as if they’re winners. Tip-off is at 8 p.m.

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