Twenty-four hours removed from Oklahoma City’s 37-point faltering to the Suns, Mark Daigneault expressed his exuberance in hitting the floor against Portland Saturday night, calling the night “a new opportunity.” The Thunder’s opportunity crumbled hastily in the Moda Center, succumbing to a 48-point drubbing from the Portland Trail Blazers. With the loss, Oklahoma City took one step back from the New Orleans Pelicans, resting on a 20-27 record for 13th in the West. Portland eclipsed their thirtieth win on the year at 30-19 following Saturday victory, hovering above a play-in seed at 6th in the West.
Oklahoma City fell behind upon Saturday’s onset, taking a 7-0 in the first two minutes. The Thunder corralled themselves with a combative 6-1 run; however, the Blazers fired back to the tune of 14 points unanswered — inflating their lead 22-6 with four to go in the frame. Damian Lillard awoke from his 0-of-4 slump to begin the game, burying two triples in the final minutes to oust Oklahoma City 35-19 through twelve. The Thunder found success in surprising fashion. The team canned 3-of-4 tries from the top of the key, yet on twos, the group shot a sulky 4-of-13 (3-of-7 in paint) including a trio of blank runners for Ty Jerome and Theo Maledon.
The Thunder directed their focus inside to begin the second feeding center Tony Bradley under the basket for their first two-of-three conversions. The “bench mob” fed into their hallmarked hustle, closing out on Portland shots while charging as many as three bodies Nurkic’s way on rebounds — so much so they shrunk the deficit to single-digits five minutes in. Both sides surfaced highlights as Moses Brown hauled in a putback scoop shot with his body opposite of the basket while Carmelo Anthony punched back on the other end turning Aleksej Pokusevski around before swishing a mid-range jumper. Melo’s 17-footer lit a spark into the Trail Blazer offense as that shot began a 12-2 Portland run to close the period 65-46
Isaiah Roby got involved in yet another scrappy play at the 9 minute, 45 second mark being close lined by C.J. McCollum while driving through the middle of the lane for a layup. Roby went straight to floor disillusioned, warranting a review — and a grade-one flagrant foul. Portland used their intimidation to their advantage stacking 20 points to the Thunder’s 5 in the first five minutes en route to a 37 point, 88-51 advantage. Portland continued to amass their lead apexing to 45 at the buzzer’s sounding 104-59.
Mark Daigneault instilled his second unit for the better portion of the fourth quarter. Two-way forward Josh Hall was sent to the locker room early into the frame for concussion examination while Darius Miller took advantage of his late-game minutes, posting 11 points in the quarter, but the game was well over.
As aforementioned, the Thunder’s loss set an illustrious franchise record slipping by 48. Eerily enough, Oklahoma City’s 133-85 misfire mounted themselves a tick up from their previous record, falling 133-86 to the Milwaukee Bucks last season.
On Saturday, the Thunder shot a feeble 35.3% from the floor (30-of-85) while strumming no harmony from distance on 23.5% shooting (8-of-34.)
Despite Portland’s monumental beating, Mark Daigneault made sure to take the defeat as a learning experience, but still something that will need to be addressed.
“You just gotta learn the lesson [losing by 48. These ones sting, obviously. The question is what to do you do with it? We have to learn the lesson,” said Daigneault.
As Oklahoma City’s eldest member on Saturday (26-years-old) Kenrich Williams stressed the importance of staying together throughout the night, he displayed this same perseverance on the floor. Williams led the team in scoring with 18 points (7-of-13 FG) chipping in 5 rebounds and 2 assists along the way.
Tony Bradley outweighed Moses Brown in minutes for the second-straight game posting 14 points and 8 rebounds. Bradley noted postgame he feels “more comfortable,” his statements projected right onto the television. The 23-year-old feasted under the basket off screens, dish-offs, and second-chances for all six of his makes for a field day inside.
Moses Brown, despite playing less than Bradley, made a solid case against his former team tallying a double-double with 10 points (4-of-7 FG) and 14 rebounds. For reference, Portland allotted names in Wenyen Gabriel, Caleb Swanigan, and Anthony Tolliver over Brown last season.
Friday’s mainstays in Theo Maledon and Aleksej Pokusevski struggled to cap their back-to-back finishing with 7 and 8 points respectively. Maledon surfaced four of his points at the stripe shooting 1-of-12 (8.3%), Pokusevski hit zero free throws, instead burying 3-of-13 shots (23.1%) Saturday.
Next up, the Oklahoma City Thunder (20-29) will head back to ‘Peake to face the Detroit Pistons (14-35) in a Monday night showdown.