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Thunder Asserts Themselves in Northwest



We are halfway through the NBA season and the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Portland Trail Blazers are tied for the lead in the Northwest Division at 31-10. The Blazers and Thunder are kicking off the second half of the season in a head to head match-up. Just like the season so far, this game went right to the end before the two teams could be separated.

Portland jumped out to a 27-21 lead at the end of the first quarter but the Thunder closed the gap to one at the half with the score at 52-51. Portland too a lead about midway through the fourth quarter at 88-85 on the strength of a big night from Lamarcus Aldridge, but in the end they had no answer for Kevin Durant who went off in this game. He scored 46 points and 17-25 shooting from the floor. He had two three pointers in the final minute to put the nails in the Trail Blazers coffin for this evening.

Reggie Jackson added 15 points for the Thunder, who improved to 32-10 on the season as they took a one game lead. Derek Fisher and Serge Ibaka added 10 apiece. Aldridge led Portland with 29 points and Wesley Matthews had 21as they dropped to 31-11.

Portland has been the surprise team in the NBA this season as they have gone toe to toe with the Thunder from the opening tip. Many times an upstart team will go into the tank a bit after getting schooled by the favorite. In a normal season this might only mean a dip to a third or fourth seed in the playoffs, but in this year’s Western Conference a two week slump caused by a deflating loss to punt a team right out of the playoffs. The Blazers need to shrug this loss off quickly.

The Western Conference playoff picture now looks like this:

1- Spurs 32-9

2- Thunder 32-10

3 -Blazers 31-11

4- Clippers 29-14

5- Rockets- 28-15

6- Warriors 26-17

7-Mavericks 25-18

8-Suns 23-17

9-Grizzlies 20-20

9-Nuggets 20-20

OK, so maybe they may not be in any danger of falling out of the playoffs, but the fifth spot is where teams start off on the road. Right now the Rockets are a mere three games in back of Portland. So a mini-slump could surely knock the Blazers off of having the home court in the opening round. The schedule gets no easier as the next six games are against teams over .500.

As for the Thunder, they now trail the Spurs by only a half game. Of course, the Thunder don’t really need home court advantage over the Spurs. they knocked them out two years ago in six games in large part by taking Game Five in San Antonio. Right now, they would have to be the favorite to come out of the West after tonight’s big win.

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