Monday, March 19, 2012
Sports News



Thunder back on track at home, beat Blazers

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[March 19, 2012]  OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Russell Westbrook scored 28 points, Kevin Durant had 26 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder began work on restoring their home-court dominance, beating the Portland Trail Blazers 111-95 on Sunday night.

James Harden added 14 points for Oklahoma City, which moved to 10-1 this season in the game immediately following a loss. The Thunder had lost at home to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.

The Thunder shot 55.4 percent from the field, led by double digits for most of the final 39 minutes and improved their record to 34-11, best in the NBA's Western Conference.

Oklahoma City had lost three of its last four games at Chesapeake Energy Arena after opening the season 17-1 at home. That lone loss was to the Blazers, but that Portland squad bore little resemblance to the lineup the Blazers fielded on Sunday.

Jamal Crawford led Portland with 23 points while Raymond Felton had 19.

Portland closed within 84-76 with 10:20 left, but Harden made five straight free throws to start a 13-6 run. Durant's 3-pointer with 6:51 left put the Thunder up 97-82 and Portland came no closer than 10 points the rest of the way.


Sunday's game was the second for Portland since firing coach Nate McMillan, waiving former No. 1 draft pick Greg Oden and trading starters Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby on Thursday. On Friday, the new-look Blazers posted an improbable 100-89 win at Chicago under interim coach Kaleb Canales, but they couldn't replicate that effort in Oklahoma City.

The Thunder never trailed. Oklahoma City closed the first quarter on a 21-5 run, scoring the final 10 points, to take a 31-15 lead. Oklahoma City led by as many as 21 in the second quarter before settling for a 57-42 halftime lead.

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Portland closed within 75-63 with 2:27 left in the third quarter after a 3-pointer by Crawford, who scored all but four of his points after halftime and kept the Blazers within striking distance.

Crawford missed another 3-point attempt moments later that would have pulled the Blazers within 10 points. The Thunder quickly rebuilt their advantage to 81-63 on a 3-pointer by Harden, but Portland went on a 13-3 run before Oklahoma City finally pulled away.

Wesley Matthews added 16 points for Portland while LaMarcus Aldridge had 15. Thabo Sefolosha scored 11 for the Thunder, going 3 of 3 from 3-point range. The Thunder finished 11 of 18 (61.1 percent) from behind the arc.

NOTES: Harden jammed his left index finger while making a steal in the first quarter. A trainer taped up the finger and Harden played the rest of the game. . The Thunder posted their 37th straight regular-season sellout, with a crowd of 18,203 at Chesapeake Energy Arena . Portland center Hasheem Thabeet, obtained from the Houston Rockets in the trade involving Camby, was not with the Blazers on Sunday . Crawford and Portland's Kurt Thomas both received technical fouls.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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