Five takeaways from the Thunder's win against the Trail Blazers
The Thunder earned a 108-96 road win at Portland on Sunday night. Here are five takeaways from the game:
Fourth quarter finishers
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 14 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. The Thunder outscored the Trail Blazers 26-18 in the final frame.
Neither team shot the ball well Sunday night (Thunder 41 percent, Blazers 36 percent), but the Thunder gained an edge from the free throw line.
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OKC made 27-of-34 attempts compared to a 15-of-18 mark from Portland.
Blazers stars struggle
Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Carmelo Anthony combined to shoot 32 percent from the floor. Lillard and McCollum scored 26 and 20 points, but they needed 24 and 21 shots to get there.
Portland lacks depth, and the Trail Blazers can’t overcome poor play from their stars.
Their depth worsened Friday night as Rodney Hood tore an Achilles tendon.
The Trail Blazers are now six games under .500.
Nerlens Noel helped the Thunder on both ends.
The reserve center scored 13 points off the bench on 5-of-7 shooting, and he was even better on defense.
Noel blocked two shots and affected several more.
Noel leads the NBA in defensive box plus/minus — a box score estimate of the defensive points per 100 possessions a player contributed above a league-average player, translated to an average team.
Dort establishing role
Luguentz Dort scored the first points of his NBA career Sunday night. They came on a transition layup in the second quarter.
But Dort’s impact was felt more on the defensive end. In just the second game of his rookie season, the undrafted guard played 20 minutes. He matched up with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum — two of the toughest covers in the league.
The Thunder are short on wings. Terrance Ferguson was out with right hip soreness. Andre Roberson isn’t close to returning. Hamidou Diallo is still weeks away from having his elbow injury re-evaluated. Deonte Burton was sent down to the G League on Saturday after serving a one-game suspension for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
All that leads to more minutes for Dort. He averaged 21.9 points per game in the G League and was a 34 percent 3-point shooter. He was 0-of-3 from behind the arc Sunday.
OKC (10-12) is now tied with Phoenix for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference standings.
Only six teams in the West have a winning record.