March 19, 2012

NBA: Thunder back on track at home, beat Blazers


After losing three of their last four games at home, the Oklahoma City Thunder went to work on restoring their home-court dominance.

Russell Westbrook scored 28 points, Kevin Durant had 26 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and the Thunder played what coach Scott Brooks called one of their best defensive quarters of the season while beating the Portland Trail Blazers 111-95 on Sunday night.

James Harden added 14 points for Oklahoma City, which moved to 10-1 this season in the game immediately following a loss. The Thunder had lost at home to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.

The Thunder shot 55.4 percent from the field, led by double digits for most of the final 39 minutes and improved their record to 34-11, best in the NBA's Western Conference.

"We really couldn't get into our normal rhythm, but I thought our energy was good enough to win the game," Brooks said.

Jamal Crawford led Portland with 23 points while Raymond Felton had 19.

Oklahoma City opened the season with a 17-1 mark at Chesapeake Energy Arena, but its recent home slump had caused some to wonder if the Thunder might be vulnerable, even if they earned home-court advantage in the postseason, something Westbrook alluded to after the game.

"It's going to be very important in the playoffs to be able to take the home court in the playoffs and get some wins," Westbrook said.

On Friday, San Antonio led the Thunder by 27 points before a late rally by Oklahoma City. On Sunday, Oklahoma City allowed the Blazers only 15 points in the first quarter while racing to a double-digit lead of its own.

"The first quarter was really, really good," Brooks said. "Holding that team to 15 points, just the way we played, the mindset that we had going into the game was good, then we kind of relaxed. The rest of the game wasn't as good, but we started the game off good defensively and we rebounded the ball pretty well."

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