Trail Blazers vs Spurs Monday, 03/28/11 AT 05:30PM

Wallace Drops 40 But Thunder Have Last Word

  1. Written by: Grant Lucas  / avg. rating: 5.0

    Kicking off a tough three-game road trip in Oklahoma City, the Portland Trail Blazers (42-31) threatened to beat the odds and take down the Oklahoma City Thunder (48-24) with a late push.

    Behind Gerald Wallace's 26 second-half points, the Trail Blazers overcame a 14-point halftime deficit to knot things up at 82, but Oklahoma City pulled away with a 17-8 rally to close the game and take a 99-90 victory.

    Wallace poured in a season-high 40 points - two off his career best - to go along with seven boards, while LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 points and seven rebounds. Andre Miller finished with nine points, eight rebounds and five assists, while Marcus Camby reeled in 13 boards.

    "It wasn't enough," Wallace said about his outing. "I'd rather take the win than take the points. I think it was a good game but we just had some crucial moments in the game where we didn't execute and things didn't go our way."

    Head Coach Nate McMillan said that, if Wallace doesn't shoot as well as usually does, the Trail Blazers wouldn't have been in the position they were late in the game.

    "He did a good job of coming off screens, knocking down shots and making Kevin Durant work," McMillan said. "He did some good things at the three-point line."

    Russell Westbrook aided the Thunder effort with 28 points, seven assists and seven rebounds, posting 19 points in the second half alone. Durant registered 21 points and five blocks, but the Trail Blazer defense held the league's top scorer to just 5-for-18 shooting.

    "It was a playoff atmosphere type of game with a team we might face in the playoffs and we came out with a good mindset defensively," Westbrook said.

    Serge Ibaka chipped in with 18 points and eight boards to help guarantee the Thunder the season series against Portland and earn a playoff berth in the process.

    "It feels good," Durant said about the postseason bid. "A couple of years ago, we were the worst team ever. Two years later, we have clinched consecutive playoff appearances, so it feels good. We have to keep pushing."

    "[The Thunder] made big shots," Head Coach Nate McMillan said. "You lose the game and that is the most disappointing part of it. They made some big plays and we did not make shots and did not rebound the ball. They pounded us on the boards."

    Oklahoma City held the advantage on the glass, outrebounding Portland 42-38 overall and 14-12 on the offensive end that led to 20 second-chance points compared to the Trail Blazers' 12.

    The Trail Blazers fell behind 11-2 early, missing five of their first six attempts before the Trail Blazers went on a 12-4 run capped by an Aldridge flush that cut the lead to one.

    Oklahoma City built its lead to 48-36 midway through the second quarter when Durant connected on his third three-ball and Ibaka threw down a fastbreak dunk, eliciting a Portland timeout. The Thunder used a 12-2 run during that time to space themselves from the Trail Blazers and carried a 55-41 advantage into the half, while shooting better than 51 percent from the field.

    Out of the break, the Trail Blazers put together a 13-2 rally to narrow the deficit to three points, as Wallace slashed through the lane and laid in the close look. The Thunder missed eight of their first nine shots, with three attempts being rejected by Portland. Westbrook, however, responded with five straight points to give Oklahoma City a little comfort room and the Thunder closed the period on a 9-3 run to earn a six-point edge after three quarters of play.

    Wallace hit on an and-one bucket at the beginning of the of the fourth to tie up the game at 76, but the Thunder later answered with eight straight, including back-to-back three-pointers by Westbrook to regain control.

    Leading by just four with less than 25 seconds to go and after Oklahoma City blocked two Portland shots, Westbrook stepped back and buried his fourth trey of the game, sealing the Thunder win.

    "He is turning into a big time player," McMillan said of Westbrook. "He is making big plays. He does not shoot many three's. The big thing for us to try and keep him out of the paint and contest his shots. He stepped up in the fourth quarter with big three's that gave his team a cushion."

    Portland takes on the San Antonio Spurs (57-16) on Monday night at the AT&T Center in a regular season series finale with the Trail Blazers holding a 2-1 advantage.

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