NBA Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, April 12th
(All times Eastern)
Oklahoma City Thunder (58-21) at Portland Trail Blazers (33-45), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - There will be no rest for the weary when the Oklahoma City
Thunder get back to work on a quick turnaround Friday night against the
Portland Trail Blazers in the finale of a three-game road trip.
The Thunder just defeated the Golden State Warriors, 116-97, Thursday behind a
total team effort led by Kevin Durant's 31 points, 10 rebounds and eight
assists. Kevin Martin and Russell Westbrook scored 23 and 18 points,
respectively, for the Thunder, who shot 50.6 percent for the game.
"I loved the team effort; everything was about the team," Thunder coach Scott
Brooks said. "We were just playing good defense ... offensively we were moving
Oklahoma City had 30 assists and received 17 points, seven rebounds and three
blocks from Serge Ibaka.
The Thunder have won four in a row on the road and are 25-15 as the visitor
this season, They have won eight of 10 games overall and own a one-half game
lead over the San Antonio Spurs for the West's top seed. The Spurs will host
the Sacramento Kings Friday.
OKC is also closing in on a third straight Northwest Division title, sitting 3
1/2 games ahead of the Denver Nuggets with three to play. The Nuggets, who won
the season series with OKC (3-1), have four games remaining and will visit the
Dallas Mavericks Friday.
The Thunder need a win or a Denver loss on Friday to clinch the division.
"We knew what we were playing for," Durant said after beating the Warriors.
"We know every game is important. So we were locked in from the beginning.
That's what we need to do."
After visiting the Blazers, Oklahoma City will close the regular season with
two straight home games versus the Kings and Milwaukee Bucks.
Portland will most likely run a depleted lineup out to the floor versus the
Thunder since LaMarcus Aldridge (illness), J.J. Hickson (back) and Wesley
Matthews (ankle) could possible miss Friday's game.
The Trail Blazers are playing out the string and have lost nine in a row,
including Wednesday's 113-106 loss to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bryant scorched the Blazers for 47 points, while rookie Damian Lillard led the
hosts with a career-high 38 points.
Bryant was impressed with Portland's rookie sensation, who leads all first-
year players in points (19.1) and assists (6.5).
"(Lillard's) spectacular," Bryant said. "He's got the moves, patience,
intelligence, (and) the balance on his jumpers. He has the whole package."
Aldridge notched a double-double with 17 points and 16 rebounds for the
Blazers, who are 0-4 on a five-game homestand and winless in the last six at
the Rose Garden.
Portland will start a two-game trek Sunday against the Nuggets and Clippers,
and has dropped the first three meetings of the season with the Thunder.
Oklahoma City has won six straight and nine of the last 11 meetings with the
Trail Blazers, who have lost four of five at home to OKC.
04/12 13:41:09 ET