PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)—Oklahoma City’s first impression of Greg Oden would not be a lasting one.
Portland’s 7-foot center was not a factor last week in the first display of the top two picks in the 2007 NBA draft, No. 1 Oden and No. 2 Kevin Durant.
But Wednesday night in the Trail Blazers’ 106-92 victory over the Thunder, Oden showed his potential with 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Afterward, Oden wasn’t going to make anything out of the whole No. 1 against No. 2 thing.
“It’s Oklahoma versus Portland,” he said patly in response to the question.
While Oden’s rookie season was put on hold for a year after he had microfracture surgery on his right knee, Durant would become Rookie of the Year. That left many in Portland wondering whether the Blazers made a mistake.
Oden has had an inconsistent start, which is most apparent in his two meetings with Durant and Oklahoma City.
Last Friday, Oden got into foul trouble early and finished with four points and two rebounds. The Thunder won 102-93, led by Durant with 31 points.
It appeared Oden might be heading in the same direction Wednesday night when he was called for his first foul less than a minute into the game. But Oden adjusted, earning praise from coach Nate McMillan.
“Oden is learning how to play in this league,” McMillan said.
Durant, meanwhile, had 20 points, well off his average of 25.6 going in. He, too, played down any comparison, but did offer a measure of praise.
“Their big guys played very well,” Durant said. “They’ve got a big front line out there, so it’s tough to play against those guys. They played well tonight.
Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 21 points and 12 rebounds.
The Thunder kept it close until the very end of the first half. Durant put Oklahoma City ahead 46-44, but the Blazers closed with a 9-0 run capped by Outlaw’s dunk as time ran out to make it 53-46.
The Thunder was coming off a 105-98 loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles the night before, and the fatigue started to show in the second half.
Durant was whistled for his fourth foul. Oden blocked Jeff Green’s shot on one end, and rookie Jerryd Bayless made a fast-break dunk on the other to put Portland up 77-68. The Blazers broke it open from there, and Outlaw hit a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 89-76.
Oden’s reverse layup made it 98-78 midway through the fourth quarter.
“The last game they embarrassed us, we let them run whatever that wanted to,” Oden said. “We wanted to get to them, and not let them this time.”
Wednesday’s game was the Thunder’s first appearance in Portland since the team was moved from Seattle. There was a smattering of SuperSonics jerseys scattered through the crowd. One fan held a sign borrowing on the NBA’s own ad campaign, reading “Where ripping out an entire city’s heart happens.”
The Blazers were coming off a victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday, a game won on Roy’s scooped layup at the buzzer.
The last time the Blazers won in the series, back on Feb. 21 of last year, the Thunder were still the Sonics.
Portland was still without starting point guard Steve Blake, who is recovering from a right shoulder separation. Blake has started practicing with the team but will not return until after the All-Star break.
Oden ranks first among NBA rookies with 16 double-doubles. … Portland’s Rudy Fernandez has made a 3-pointer in 29 straight games, matching the rookie record held by Kirk Hinrich. Fernandez has hit a 3-pointer in 49 of his 50 games this year. … The Blazers improved to 20-5 at the Rose Garden this season. … Oklahoma City is 3-22 on the road. … Former Oregon Ducks quarterback Joey Harrington was at the game. … Westbook had eight offensive rebounds, a career high. His 12 total rebounds ties his career best.