Portland (USA), – Damian Lillard led the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday with a 30-point attack in the 104-99 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the opening match of the first-round series of ‘playoffs’ of the Western Conference.
Along with Lillard, the Swiss Turkish pivot Enes Kanter was also decisive with his contribution to the indoor game to get a double-double of 20 points and 18 rebounds, his best mark as a professional in the ‘playoffs’.
The contribution of Kanter, who occupied the position of headliner vacated the Bosnian center Jusuf Nurkic, who broke his left leg when he averaged 15.6 points and 10.4 rebounds, has become the key that allowed the Trail Blazers finish third in the Western Conference and take victory in the first duel against the Thunder.
Kanter signed with the Trail Blazers before the All-Star break and injured Nurkic after the New York Knicks dropped him.
The Trail Blazers, who are competing for the sixth consecutive season in the playoffs, had guard CJ McCollum as their second highest scorer with 24 points.
The Portland team had up to 19 points in the first half, but the Thunder reacted in the second and at the beginning of the quarter the difference was only three goals (80-77).
But the Thunder could not get closer on the scoreboard because Lillard responded with a spectacular triple and with 6 minutes and 38 seconds to play they extended the lead to eight with a 89-81 partial, which gave them the comfort of staying in front of the scoreboard. .
The Thunder’s star base, Russell Westbrook, remained in his line of providing a triple-double at the conclusion of the game with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, which in the end could not be the winning factor of the Oklahoma City team, which concluded the regular season in sixth place in the Western Conference standings.
The forward Paul George, who was doubtful up to an hour before the game to feel discomfort in his right shoulder, eventually came out and although he had a slow start he finished as the Thunder’s leading scorer by providing a double-double of 26 points 10 rebounds , that neither prevented the defeat of his team.
Westbrook, in the final stretch of the game, also appeared to have injured his right knee or ankle, showing signs of pain while trying to walk.
The caretakers of the team attended him on the bench during the following timeout that the Thunder called and returned to the field without problems to get a basket with penetration and give the Thunder the partial 91-87 with just four minutes remaining.
The trimming of points by the Thunder continued when George managed a triple for the partial 93-92, but again Lillard responded with another decisive triple.
Power forward Al-Farouq Aminu scored two more points from the personnel line for the Trail Blazers that gave them the 98-92 partial advantage with 2:09 minutes left, which would be decisive.
Although again George scored a triple with 8.2 seconds to play that allowed the Thunder to continue in the game (100-97), but without the Trail Blazers allowed them to complete the comeback.
The duel between both teams was the first in the playoffs since the Thunder left Seattle as the SuperSonics and moved to Oklahoma City, where they also changed their name.
While during the regular season the Thunder managed to win the series of four games that both teams played.
The Thunder have played the playoffs every season since moving out of Seattle in 2008, but have not been able to get past the first round in the last two.
The second match of the series to the best of seven will be played next Tuesday, on the same stage of the Fashion Center, the field of the Trail Blazers. (EFE).