Was it a block, or a goaltend?
The shame of what otherwise would certainly go down as one of this season’s classics is that will be the discussion. With the Thunder trailing by two, Kevin Durant got to the rim and put the ball off the glass and LaMarcus Aldridge swatted it away. Or Aldridge swatted it to the glass. It didn’t matter what we thought though. Referee Scott Foster saw it as a goaltend. Two points. Overtime.
I think KD’s little grin while he was watching the replay says it all. It appeared to be a block. At least that’s the side I’m going to take after watching it with my face two inches from the screen about 60 times. I think the point is, that’s not a good call to make either way in that situation. Because full speed, it’s nearly impossible to tell. I think if we were being honest here, Thunder fans would be a tad upset if they were on the other end of that.
But try and forget all that because this was a fantastic 111-107 Thunder victory in Portland. So many big points to single out. So many big moments. All of KD’s silencing jumpers that kept OKC ticking. Russell Westbrook’s ridiuclous block on Nicolas Batum at the end of regulation. Serge Ibaka’s work on the offensive glass.
All of that stuff was incredibly large, but it really was all about Perk, who played his best game of the season. He was completely torched by LaMarcus Aldridge for about 44 minutes as Aldridge put up a season-high 39. Aldridge was having his way — off the dribble, in the post, in the pick-and-pop. But the last four minutes and overtime, Perk was incredible. Aldridge finished the game missing eight of his last nine shots as Perk roughed him up, keeping him off the block and contesting every shot. The Thunder doubled some, but mostly relied upon Perk to just do his best. It was going to come down to that matchup. If Perk could stop Aldridge just enough, the Thunder might find enough buckets to pull the thing out.
Perk talked before the game how he has to do better and I’d say he did. Not just the defense, but he looked far more active on the glass than we’ve seen him this season. He pulled in 10 rebounds, which is his first double-digit rebounding game in almost a month. He blocked Jamal Crawford’s potential tying shot. He played his butt off and impacted the game the way he should. He wasn’t just a screener and tough guy on the defensive block. He actually made a big difference. You could tell he knew it too in his interview with Kelly Crull after the game. He was clearly fired up and happy. He played a helluva game and was proud of it. Now, just do that 42 more times.
This game though had some serious ups and downs. The Thunder blew it and then won it about five different times. They went up by 12 twice in the third quarter only to see the Blazers erase it with a speedy 13-0 run. But after KD knocked down two cold-blooded jumpers, OKC responded going on their own 16-4 spurt. And then gave it up again, by turning it over twice at the end of the third to help start an 8-0 Portland run. It looked like the Thunder were about to crap away a game as they went scoreless for three minutes in the fourth and only scored six points from the 11-minutes mark to about the three-minute mark, but KD bailed OKC out again hitting a big time 3 to cut it back to a three-point game.
A stop here, another bucket and just like that the Thunder had tied it back up. A Jamal Crawford jumper put the Blazer up two and the Thunder were going to have to dig deep again. I thought going for the win made the most sense because I couldn’t see OKC winning on the road and stopping Aldridge enough in overtime. Good thing I’m an idiot. Because Durant tied it up and the Thunder took care of business in the OT.
I’m almost out of breath trying to recap this thing. Here are the cliff notes: It was a good game, had a controversial finish and a whole lot of stuff happened. But in the end, the Thunder had more points than the Blazers and nothing is going to change that result. Considering how hard the Thunder played in this game, you could tell they wanted it. The loss against San Antonio really stung and starting this road trip 0-2 wouldn’t have been good. Instead, now the Thunder pulled off a terrific win and could come out of this stretch in good shape.
- You probably don’t care, but my goodness, Blazer fans took this one hard.
- KD’s 33 field goal attempts are the most he’s ever taken in his career. He’s only attempted more than 30 once before tonight. He scored 33 points on 33 shots, with the reason being he only took one free throw in that game.
- OKC finished with a 59-39 edge on the glass. The Thunder had 18 offensive rebounds, led by Serge Ibaka’s animal-like work on the glass where he pulled in 13 rebounds, seven offensive.
- A sign of life from Nazr Mohammed! He had seven rebounds in 11 minutes and played some solid defense.
- Nate McMillan on the goaltending call: “It was a good block. That game should’ve been over.” Except for the fact the Thunder still had possession with six seconds left, but whatever.
- On the skip pass play tonight that Daequan Cook drilled, go back and watch how good Nick Collison’s screen was. He looked like Hines Ward cracking back on a linebacker.
- How about Perk’s baseline and-1 move?
- Gerald Wallace had just four points on 2-9 shooting. KD was doing some work on both ends in this one.
- Westbrook had five turnovers tonight, but not one in the fourth quarter. 28 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. And one massive block on Batum right at the end of regulation. And a couple huge rebounds. Dude was just after it tonight. A classic Westbrook game.
- On the road, James Harden went for 19 on 6-12 shooting. He wasn’t overly terrific, but was solid throughout. He attacked well, hit a big 3 and played some good perimeter defense.
- Keep in mind the Blazers were without Raymond Felton. Now, Felton hasn’t been great this season, but instead Portland had to use Jamal Crawford at the point which isn’t ideal for them.
- How good is LaMarcus Aldridge though? Even before Perk finished the game strong on him, I thought Perk was doing a great job but Aldridge was just hitting incredible shots. He’s such a tough cover. I honestly don’t know the best way to defend him except for just hope he misses.
- The Thunder turned it over 19 times but still only took two fewer shots than the Blazers. Again, offensive rebounding was important.
- Brian Davis Line of the Night: “And here you thought floppy was a play call and not a defensive tactic.” Or: “How about ‘roar young lion’ but he’s not a young lion anymore. How about ROAR LION ROAR!”
Next up: At the Warriors Tuesday.