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Westbrook, Thunder roll past Blazers

The SportsXchange

OKLAHOMA CITY -- After watching his team fall in the final seconds of their season opener, Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks wanted his team to forget about it.

With 81 more games left on the schedule, he didn't want them dwelling on the loss.

The Thunder seemed to have gotten the message. It defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 106-92 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.

"It was great," Russell Westbrook said. "Especially off a back-to-back. Get a chance to come back to our home crowd and come out with a win."

Russell Westbrook, who had a terrible final minutes in the loss to the San Antonio Spurs, had a huge night against the Trail Blazers. He accounted for 32 points on 13-of-24 shooting.

"I knew he would respond," Brooks said. "That's what he does. He's a winner. He plays the game the right way. He's as tough as they come."

The Trail Blazers (1-1) were hoping to build off their season opening win over the Los Angeles Lakers by knocking off the Thunder at home. But they shot only 36 percent from the field and allowed Oklahoma City (1-1) to hit a blistering 50.7 of its shots.

"Just couldn't get key stops," Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge said. "We always guard their initial action pretty well. Then late in the shot clock when we had one-on-one coverage, we had some big break downs. We just didn't shoot well tonight."

Despite that, Portland had its chances to steal the win. It trailed 80-75 with 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter. But every time it made a run, Oklahoma City found a player to respond. Whether it was Westbrook, Kevin Durant or Kevin Martin, it always had an answer. Its five-point advantage turned to double digits with 3 minutes remaining and the arena started to clear out.

"We just couldn't get that stop we needed," Portland's Damian Lillard said. "I think when it got to that point where we cut it to five, it was at that time in the game when we needed to put a couple of stops together. And we were one or two stops away from probably tying the game up. But we couldn't get those two shots and they started to make more shots and got away from us."

Led by Durant and Westbrook, Oklahoma City was energized and aggressive to start the game. It attacked the Blazers interior defense and the backboards and led 40-33 late in the half.

But Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum hit back-to-back baskets to close gap to two points. However, Westbrook and Durant scored nine of the next 11 points to give Oklahoma City breathing room at halftime.

In his first game in front at home since being traded to Oklahoma City, Martin showed fans they do not have to worry about the loss of James Harden. He was 3 of 3 from behind the arc and knocked in 19 points.

"He is doing it on the fly," Brooks said. "We've definitely given him a speedy course of what we do and how we like to do it. But we have a good group of guys who are willing to show him and teach him and expedite that learning curve. He knows how to play."

While Durant had only 23 points, which is low for the three-time scoring champion, he did haul in 17 rebounds, one off his career high of 18. That's 35 in two games.

The Blazers had four players score in double figures, led by rookie Lillard. He posted 21 points and handed out seven assists in a matchup with Westbrook. Aldridge scored 22 in the loss.

"The game is funny," Aldridge said. "You might have an advantage, but if guys aren't making shots, you can't take advantage of it. Tonight we all had great looks, especially myself. We didn't make shots. I didn't make shots. I have to definitely be better than this. I will be."

Notes: Portland coach Terry Stotts made his return to Oklahoma for the first time as an NBA head coach Friday. Stotts graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1980 and averaged 16.9 points and 4.6 rebounds and was named to the All-Big Eight team his senior year. ... Trail Blazers backup point guard Ronnie Price missed his second straight game as he continues to recover from an ankle sprain he suffered during the exhibition season. ... After being called up from Oklahoma City's D-League affiliate Tulsa 66ers, Daniel Orton failed to suit up for the second straight game. Orton is a native of Oklahoma City and graduated from Bishop McGuiness before going to Kentucky. He was drafted by the Orlando Magic. ... While Brooks was not happy that his team lost its season opener to San Antonio Thursday, he does like that his team is in close games. "Game 1 out of 82 and it felt like a playoff game," Brooks said. "I think it's good for us to have these emotional tough games. But 81 more of those games will take its toll on me. I don't know about (the players)."
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