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Durant, Thunder snap Blazers' nine-game home win streak

There was no Serge Ibaka, no Thabo Sefolosha in Oklahoma City’s lineup Sunday night at the Rose Garden.

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - LaMarcus Aldridge of the Trail Blazers puts up a shot against Oklahoma City's Kendrick Perkins in Portland's loss at home Sunday night.There was way too much Kevin Durant, however, for the Trail Blazers.

Durant scored 22 of his 33 points in the second half to lift the Thunder past Portland 87-83 Sunday night at the Rose Garden.

It was the eighth win in 10 games and 20th in the past 25 outings for the Thunder (29-8), who despite missing starters Serge Ibaka (chest buirse) and Thabo Sefalosha (neck strain) snapped the Trail Blazers’ nine-game win streak at home.

Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge collected a season-high 33 points and 11 rebounds — his 17th double-double of the season — but missed a shot in the closing seconds that could have forced overtime. Teammate Nicolas Batum added 21 points and seven boards.

The Blazers (20-17) had the ball trailing 85-83 after Oklahoma City’s Kendrick Perkins made 1 of 2 foul shots with 8.5 seconds left.

After a timeout, Wesley Matthews inbounded to Aldridge, who was defended — and played to his right — by Perkins. Aldridge took one dribble forward, then pivoted left and launched an 18-foot fadeaway that found nothing but air.

OKC’s Russell Westbrook rebounded and was fouled with 1.7 seconds remaining. His two free throws cinched the victory.

Portland coach Terry Stotts said there were three options on the final play.

“Nic (Batum) was setting a backscreen (for) Wes,” Stotts said. Then “Nic was coming for a handback to an open court. We didn’t get the handback. If that wasn’t there, L.A. was going to drive. (The Thunder) defended it well. Kendrick did a nice job.”

When asked if he’d have preferred that Aldridge drive to the hoop, Stotts shrugged.

“It’s easy to say that in retrospect,” he said. The Thunder “pushed the catch-out past the 3-point line.

“I‘m not going to criticize our guys. They played their asses off, were in position to put it into overtime and didn’t quite get it done.”

Aldridge said he wanted to get the ball to Batum but was denied the chance by Durant, who was tightly guarding him.

“If I could have, I would have, but I didn’t feel like it was a good pass to try to make,” Aldridge said. “I didn’t want to turn it over.”

Aldridge said he considered a move to the basket, but Perkins took away his right hand, “and I don’t go left too often. I didn’t want to go left.”

“I took one dribble and shot it,” he said. “Thought it was good, and it was bad. A bad shot by me. Have to do better.”

With two starters missing and a third, Westbrook, enduring a nightmarish shooting night, Durant was a one-band band for major portions of Sunday’s contest. The four-time All-Star small forward was 12 for 21 from the field and 7 for 8 from the foul line and had six assists and four rebounds in his 39 minutes.

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook drives around Portland's Damian Lillard.His most successful accomplice was DeAndre Liggins, thrust into the starting lineup for the first time in 31 career games by Sefalosha’s absence. The 6-6, 210-pound Liggins, averaging 1.0 points, 1.1 rebounds and 4.5 minutes in 12 games this season, came up big with career highs in points (11) and rebounds (nine), sinking all three of his shots from 3-point range.

It was a rough night offensively for both starting point guards. Westbrook had 18 points, eight rebounds and nine assists but was 5 for 21 from the field. Portland rookie Damian Lillard — who scored a season-high 37 points in Friday’s loss at Golden State — finished with nine points and nine assists with a 3-for-14 shooting performance.

“It was just me missing shots,” Lillard said. “A lot of shots I missed, (Westbrook) wasn’t even near to contest them.”

Lillard “had some good looks, probably better looks than he had at Golden State,” Stotts said. The Thunder “bottled up his pick-and-rolls pretty well, corralled him and didn’t let him drive.”

Trailing by a point at halftime, Oklahoma City opened a 63-52 lead midway through the third quarter, Durant scoring 11 of the Thunder’s 21 points in the run. He finished with 13 points in the quarter, sending OKC into the final period ahead 68-59.

The Thunder led 84-74 with 3:20 remaining, but the Blazers scored the next six points, Batum’s put-back making it 84-80 with 1:55 left.

Neither team scored again until Batum nailed a 3-pointer with 21.9 seconds to play to close the margin to 84-83.

Westbrook was stripped as the Thunder brought the ball upcourt — he thought he was fouled — but Batum’s driving layup went off. Perkins was fouled on the rebound with 8.5 seconds to go, setting up the final seconds of drama.

Oklahoma City shot .451 from the field (32 for 71) while Portland shot only .360 (31 for 86).

Going against “the top team in the league, probably, it was just a rough night for us as a team offensively,” Lillard said. “L.A. really had it going and carried us offensively, and Nic knocked some shots down. Outside of those two, we struggled.”

Matthews said the Blazers won’t spent time worrying about the defeat.

“Just bumps in the road,” he said. “That’s how the season goes. We feel like we’re supposed to win every game. We won nine straight at home against a lot of quality competition. Just have to let it go.”

NOTES — Portland’s next action is Tuesday night at Denver. ... Portland has lost two straight after winning 12 of its previous 15 outings. ... Sunday’s loss was the first for the Blazers at home since Dec. 8 vs. Sacramento. ... The Thunder have won five in a row in their series with the Blazers. ... It was the fewest points OKC has scored since an 86-84 loss to San Antonio in the season opener. The Thunder entered Sunday’s play leading the NBA with a 105.7-point average. ... It was Aldridge’s third game this season with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds. ... Matthews had a forgettable offensive game, collecting seven points on 2-for-8 shooting with four assists and four rebounds in 39 minutes. ... Batum defended Durant most of the game, but Matthews took the OKC star on the final few possessions, holding him scoreless. “They talked among themselves to decide how to do it,” Stotts said. “I give them latitude on the matchups.” ... Portland has shot under 40 percent in its last three games. “We’ve played three good defensive teams (Miami, Golden State and Oklahoma City),” Stotts said. “That’s part of it. Tonight, we missed a lot of shots we can make. We were 15 for 36 in the paint.” ... OKC won the points-in-the-paint battle 46-30. ... Portland was 6 for 21 (.286) from 3-point territory Sunday after firing up a franchise-record 43 3-point tries in Friday’s 103-97 loss at Golden State, making 15.

Before the game, Brooks gushed about Lillard. “Is he really a rookie?” the OKC coach asked rhetorically. “He plays like he’s a six- or seven-year veteran. He has great poise. He controls the game. He figures out what the game needs and he gives it to his team. He’s a tremendous 3-point shooter. He takes a lot of shots deep. You don’t think he’ll take it, but he makes it. We’re aware we have to get out there and guard him, but he has a way of getting open. He has a knack for using screens. Usually it takes a couple of years to acquire a great pick-and-roll game, but he already has that. His teammates seem to really enjoy playing along with him. That says a lot about a rookie in this league. Very rarely do you come in and enjoy the respect of your teammates right off the bat. It tells you he has high character, great work ethic and the skill set to lead them. He has a chance to be one of the top point guards in the league.”