Game 5 Recap: Blazers (3-2) def. Thunder (1-4)

Game 5 Recap: Blazers (3-2) def. Thunder (1-4) 102-99

Official Box Score

These recaps are sounding like a broken record, but here goes: the Thunder played a very close and competitive game against an upper echelon playoff contender, only to fall just short in the last couple minutes. This game was a lot like the opening game against the Jazz: The Thunder led for most of the 4th quarter until, like Donovan Mitchell in the opener, Damian Lillard remembered he could shoot from anywhere against any defense and stole the game out from under Oklahoma City. And again, I need to remind Thunder fans that this may be the best result possible. Enjoy good basketball for 48 minutes but stay in the running for a top-5 draft pick and elite talent.

  • It’s a weird feeling when you wanna boo the refs but you’re sitting in the media box.
  • The Thunder deflected approximately 399 balls tonight and every single one of them went back to the Blazers. Gotta like the active hands by OKC on defense, though.
  • When the Thunder played these Blazers in the playoffs just six months ago, their four best players were Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Steven Adams and Jerami Grant. None of them played for OKC tonight.
  • Danilo Gallinari’s audition for a deadline trade to the Blazers was a mixed bag. Every time I saw a shot of his go down in the first half, I couldn’t help but think of the sweet junior high kid out there we will be drafting with Portland’s first round pick in the 2025 draft. Every time he missed a wide open shot in the second half, I thought of that kid’s AAU buddy who is gonna end up a scrappy second rounder.
  • The Thunder crowd report: about 75% full on a freezing Wednesday night, competing against Oklahoma church night and Game 7 of the World Series. Not bad. 
  • If you are a fan of traveling, then hopefully you stopped watching Game 7 of the World Series and tuned into this OKC vs Portland game! 
  • This Thunder team plays hard. That’s been a staple of this organization since Day 1. I don’t know how many games they’ll win, but they’ll compete every minute of every game. It’s just nice to see that the fighting spirit marches on, even with a completely new cast.
  • Find someone who loves you and will hold on to you as much as Billy Donovan loves holding on to his coach’s challenges.
  • Terrance Ferguson and Hamidou Diallo aren’t getting enough credit for their defense thus far this season. They’ve done a great job in back to back games on the likes of James Harden, Dame and CJ McCollum. I don’t know what the defensive analytics say, I’m just going by the eye test and raw box score. So I might get ripped in the comments section by the advanced stats nerds (luv u Justin). 
  • As I typed that last note, Mike Muscala missed another wide open three. 
  • Hamidou Diallo going from fun high flying dunk champ to legit rotation player is one of my favorite stories of this Thunder season so far.
  • Dennis Schroder was probably the Thunder’s worst player, non Nader division, the first two games. He’s been arguably their best player over the past three games collectively. If he keeps this up, he could end up being the OKC veteran point guard traded at the deadline.
  • Chris Paul didn’t score until three minutes left in the first half, but he was absolutely fantastic from that point on. 
  • No Adams is a bummer because this could’ve been a good get right game against Hassan Whiteside. More importantly, it means that Muscala’s minutes might not have happened. 
  • That said, Nerlens Noel played great on both sides of the court with starter’s minutes. He was arguably the Thunder’s best overall player tonight.
  • Shai had his worst scoring game of the year, but still flashed his unique talent and finishing ability a few times, had a couple nice dishes, played hard on the boards and worked hard defensively. All I really want from Thunder games is for Shai to look like a star, so this game was the first one in the loss column for me. 
  • OKC’s record says 1-4, but my heart says “you guys are doing a great job.”