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Trail Blazers wrap road trip with loss to Thunder

03/18/12
  1. Written by: KevinHudson  / avg. rating: 5.0


    The Portland Trail Blazers wrapped up their 7-game road trip, Sunday, with a 111-95 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in front of 18,203 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

    Portland (21-24) dug an early hole with poor shooting, hitting just 6-of-23 from the field in the first quarter, including a stretch of nine possessions over the final four minutes of the period without a made basket.

    Meanwhile, Oklahoma City (34-11) converted on 12-of-22 first-quarter attempts, including a 10-0 run during the Trail Blazers drought, to lead 31-15 headed into the second quarter.

    "We knew they were going to come out aggressive, especially after a home loss," said Portland coach Kaleb Canales. "We talked about withstanding that first punch and I think we probably could have scored a little more and not dug ourselves so deep of a hole."

    The Thunder lead ballooned to 21 points in the second period but the Trail Blazers chipped away, edging out the Thunder by one point in the second and third quarters to enter the final stanza trailing 84-70.

    Portland made a push in the opening minutes of the fourth period, cutting the deficit to single digits at 84-76 with three quick baskets.

    But the Thunder answered back as they did all evening, and James Harden's three free throws pushed the lead back to double digits, where it would remain as Oklahoma City extended for the final margin.

    "They're the best team in the West for a reason. They're very good at home," Canales said. "We just couldn't put consecutive sequences of runs together and (the Thunder) did a very good job of responding."

    Jamal Crawford led the way for Portland with 23 points, followed by point guard Raymond Felton with 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting and a team-high seven assists. The two combined to shoot 16-of-32 in the contest.

    "We're just going to continue to fight," Felton said. "I feel like we're going in the right direction...We lost tonight but they had to fight. They had to play hard to beat us. That's the way we want to play."

    Wesley Matthews scored 16 points and added a game-high four steals while LaMarcus Aldridge tallied 15 points, six rebounds.

    Joel Przybilla led the way in the battle of the boards for Portland, grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds to go along with six points and two blocked shots.

    Oklahoma City was led by Russell Westbrook with 28 points and five assists, followed by Kevin Durant with 26 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

    Portland returns home to take on the Milwaukee Bucks, Tuesday, 7 p.m., at the Rose Garden. The game can be seen locally on Comcast SportsNet (Comcast channel 37). 750 AM The Game and NBA Audio League Pass will have the play-by-play call.

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