Thunder at Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers had their four-game winning streak come to an end at Golden State on Friday. Their own building has been much more inviting. The Trail Blazers will be looking for their 10th straight home victory when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. The Thunder began a stretch of road games with a dominating performance at the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday and have taken three of their last four contests away from home.
Portland has taken 12 of its last 16 games to work its way into the top eight in the Western Conference, and took down the defending champion Miami Heat in its last home game on Thursday. Rookie Damian Lillard nearly brought the Blazers back from a big deficit all by himself on Friday but fell just short in a 103-97 loss to the Warriors. Lillard will have his work cut out for him on the defensive end Sunday against Russell Westbrook, who is averaging 23.4 points and 7.4 assists over the last five games.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FSN (Oklahoma City), CSN (Portland)
ABOUT THE THUNDER (28-8): Oklahoma City is back atop the West and is coming off one of its more impressive performances, a 116-101 thrashing of the Lakers. Kevin Durant went for 42 points and Westbrook added 27 and 10 assists. More notable than the offense, which leads the NBA in scoring, has been the defensive effort of late. The Thunder limited Los Angeles to 39.8 percent shooting and had held three of its previous four opponents under 100 points. Westbrook scored 32 points while Durant piled up 23, 17 rebounds and seven assists in a 106-92 home win over Portland on Nov. 2. Oklahoma City limited the Blazers to 36 percent shooting in that victory.
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (20-16): Lillard, then playing in just his second NBA game, scored 21 points in that Nov. 2 meeting to go along with seven assists. The Weber State product buried a career-high seven 3-pointers and went 15-of-25 from the floor en route to 37 points on Friday and is averaging 19.3 in seven games this month. Portland also has gotten strong play in the frontcourt from LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson during its recent climb in the standings. Portland, which is 13-4 at home, will play six of its next seven at the Rose Garden.
1. The Thunder have taken four straight and seven of the last nine in the all-time series.
2. Aldridge has been dealing with some right ankle pain but is not expected to miss Sunday’s game.
3. Oklahoma City F Serge Ibaka suffered a chest contusion on Friday and is questionable for Sunday.