Oklahoma City — Oklahoma City was without their leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander due to an ankle sprain, the Thunder knew they had an uphill battle without him on the court.
Without Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder used a balanced offense to pull out the win, the team’s first in six games this season without its leading scorer.
Josh Giddey, who moved over to point in Gilgeous-Alexander’s absence, had 14 points and 12 boards.
Luguentz Dort scored 18 points to help the Thunder defeat the Portland Trail Blazers 98-81 on Monday night to snap a seven-game losing skid.
The Portland Trail Blazers suffered arguably their worst loss of the season on Monday night by losing to the Thunder, one of the worst teams in the NBA playing without its best player.
The Blazers led by as many as 18 points in the first half, but flamed out in the second half, shooting 38.9% on the hardwood while making just 2 of 17 three-pointers. Portland were outscored 59-34 in the final two quarters.
Portland scored 31 in the first, and they extended their lead to 40-22 with a 9-0 run early in the second quarter.
Then Portland’s offense went glacial, shooting just 3 of 14 over the last seven minutes of the second quarter as the Thunder trim the deficit to 47-39 at the break.
“I thought that we really played the right way in the first half,” Portland Chauncey Billups said. “We drew extra defenders. We just couldn’t make shots. Five for 21 at the half from three. That’s not like us. But it happens. I was just happy that we stayed with it. We didn’t get frustrated. We kept playing the right way.”
The Thunder took a four-point lead after the third quarter, then Portland tied it up shortly after that, but the Trail Blazers were still struggling to get into their half court offense.
The game was tied early in the fourth quarter, a smooth behind-the-back pass from Ty Jerome to Kenrich Williams led to a dunk that put the Thunder up 73-65. It was part of a 15-0 run that gave the Thunder an 80-65 lead and control for good. The Thunder hit their first six shots of the period, including a pair of 3-pointers from Jerome and a trey by Mike Muscala, to mount the big lead.
CJ McCollum scored a game-high 21 points on 10-of-17 shooting to lead the Trail Blazers, who have dropped two consecutive contests and four of their past five. Norman Powell chipped in 17 points, and Jusuf Nurkic added 14 points and nine boards.
“A lot of good looks that just didn’t fall,” McCollum said.
Darius Bazley scored 15 off the bench for the Thunder, whose reserves outscored Portland’s 40-19.
“For the most part, this is one of those games where you couldn’t make a shot,” Billups said. “Eighty-one points — anybody in the league scores 81 points, there’s no way you’re going to have a chance to win the game. But I thought we played the right way. Just couldn’t make them.”
The Thunder outrebounded Portland 50-41, and held the Blazers to just 18 percent from three-point range.
In the second half, the Thunder shot 50% from the field, 40% from 3-point range and 100% from the free throw line.
The win margin was the second largest of the season for OKC, behind the 21 points they defeated Brooklyn by on January 13th, their last win.
“I said when he went out that we want to be a team that solves problems with five guys,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “That’s like internal messaging we use with the guys pretty regularly. And not having a player like Shai is a problem. You know, we would love to have Shai. And I thought tonight . We solved the problem with five guys.”
Trail Blazers: At the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
Thunder: At the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday.