West powers collide as Thunder visit Blazers
(SportsNetwork.com) - In a possible Western Conference Finals preview, Kevin Durant will lead the Oklahoma City Thunder into a pivotal Northwest Division matchup Tuesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center.
The Thunder are the Western Conference's best by 3 1/2 games over the San Antonio Spurs. Oklahoma City is four games clear of Portland in the Northwest Division.
This is the final meeting between NBA powers. The Blazers have taken two of three matchups, including the only contest in Portland, a 111-104 decision on Dec. 4.
OKC bounced back from a last-second loss Friday night in Orlando with a 112-100 home victory Sunday over the New York Knicks.
Kevin Durant had 41 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and two blocks in the win. Durant has scored 20 or more points in 26 consecutive games for the Thunder and was named Western Conference Player of the Week for the fifth time this season.
"In the pick and roll we did a good job of using the screen effectively," Durant said. "Serge gave his body up for other guys and also finished as well. Once we play with the pass, we're unpredictable. We have to continue to make the right plays."
Reggie Jackson finished with 19 points, followed by 16 from Serge Ibaka, 12 out of Thabo Sefolosha and 10 from Derek Fisher. Kendrick Perkins pulled down 11 rebounds for the Thunder, who shot 54.8 percent and 44.4 percent from long range.
The Thunder close out a mini road trip Thursday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Blazers returned home from an eastern road trip that saw them go 2-2. They earned tough victories over the Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves, but lost against the Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers in overtime.
The most recent game was the Minnesota affair and LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and nine rebounds as the Trail Blazers defeated the shorthanded Timberwolves, 117-110, on Saturday night.
Minnesota was missing starters Kevin Love (quad), Nikola Pekovic (ankle) and Kevin Martin (toe) due to injuries. That wasn't Portland's problem as it finished with six double-figure scorers.
Rookie C.J. McCollum netted 19 points and Damian Lillard tallied 14 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Blazers, who have alternated wins and losses over their last six tilts.
"I feel more comfortable every game," McCollum said. "Obviously I'm a confident person and I put a lot of work in and trust myself."
Wesley Matthews finished with 21 points, while Nicolas Batum chipped in 15 points and Joel Freeland added 11 off the bench. Robin Lopez only managed seven points, but grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked four shots.
When the Blazers beat the Thunder on Dec. 4, that halted a seven-game series losing streak.
02/11 10:20:20 ET