(The Sports Xchange) - Kevin Durant scored 24 points to lead Oklahoma City to a 106-90 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Wednesday as the Thunder rolled to a sixth consecutive triumph.
“They are very physical,” Blazers forward Mason Plumlee told reporters after the Thunder owned a 48-34 scoring advantage in the paint and out-rebounded their opponents 51-47.
“Their inside players are focused on rebounding and they are focused on defending. When that is your mindset, you really have to lock in as the opposition and keep them off the glass. We didn’t do a good job of that to start the game.”
Durant shot 8-of-14 from the field to go along with seven rebounds and four assists as six Thunder players scored in doubles figures, including guard Dion Waiters, who came off the bench to pour in 18 points and grab six rebounds.
Guard Russell Westbrook and forward Serge Ibaka each scored 13 points for Oklahoma City (17-8).
“We feel like we can get into the paint whenever we want,” Durant said. “Our bigs did a good job of rebounding and finishing. We knew we could get anything we wanted if we were aggressive. In the second half we did that.”
Guard CJ McCollum led the Blazers with 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Guard Damian Lillard added 20 points and Plumlee scored 14 points in the loss.
“Oklahoma City played a very good game,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “They were aggressive offensively. Aggressive under the boards, aggressive in the paint and we were kind of behind them the whole night.”
McCollum had the Thunder on their heels to start the game. He lit them up for 12 points in the first eight minutes, and he and Lillard combined to score 21 points in the first quarter.
The Thunder responded with a balanced scoring attack. Even though none of them hit double figures in the first half, six players scored at least six points as Oklahoma City took a 52-45 halftime advantage.
“I thought the first 21 minutes of that first half we played really well,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said.
“They are a hard team to guard with McCollum and Lillard and their range and their ability to shoot it. I really thought our guys did a good job defensively tonight.”
The second half was all about Oklahoma City’s defense. After the fast start by Portland’s backcourt, Lillard and McCollum were held to just eight points in the third quarter.
That left scoring duties to Plumlee but Thunder centers Steven Adams and Nick Collison took turns getting physical with him and keeping him off the boards.
With the Thunder leading by 21 points at the end of the third quarter, the Oklahoma City starters were done for the rest of the night.
“We are not a soft team,” Plumlee said. “We will be ready next time. Nobody likes take a loss like this but luckily we get to play them again.”
Editing by John O'Brien