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Trail Blazers 106, Thunder 89

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PORTLAND – The Portland Trail Blazer outscored the Oklahoma City Thunder 31-12 in the fourth quarter to roll to a 106-89 victory at the Moda Center Wednesday night in the opener for both teams.

The Trail Blazers trailed by two points going into the quarter but totally dominated the final 12 minutes.

Forward LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points and guard Wesley Matthews added 22 for Portland.

Guard Russell Westbrook tallied 38 points to lead the Thunder, but only two of them came in the final period.

Oklahoma City was playing without the NBA’s Most Valuable Player last season, Kevin Durant, out following preseason foot surgery.

Westbrook was a terror through a first half in which he scored 26 points, dished out five assists and finished the half on a breakaway dunk that gave the Thunder a 54-49 lead at the break.

Aldridge was big, too, with 18 points for the Blazers, who shot only .383 from the field — including 2-for-15 from 3-point range — in the half. All-Star guard Damian Lillard was 0-for-5 from the field and scoreless in 14 first-half minutes.

The Thunder extended the margin to 60-52, but the Blazers chipped away, drawing to within 68-65 midway through the third quarter. Oklahoma City took a 77-75 lead into the final period.

Portland opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers by Matthews and Lillard to seize an 81-77 advantage. It was 101-85 after Matthews sank consecutive 3-pointers, and the Thunder were done.

Westbrook scored the game’s first four points and had 11 in the first quarter as Oklahoma City jumped to a 16-7 lead, then settled for a 34-29 advantage heading into the second period. Aldridge lit it up for 15 points in the quarter for the Blazers.

With 7-footers Robin Lopez and Chris Kaman on the floor at the same time, Portland outscored the Thunder 8-1 at the outset of the second quarter to go in front 37-35. The Thunder regained control and went into the half with a five-point advantage.

NOTES: Oklahoma City was without six injured players — starter F Kevin Durant (foot) and reserves G Reggie Jackson (ankle), G Jeremy Lamb (back), F Anthony Morrow (knee), F Mitch McGary (foot) and F Grant Jerrett (ankle). With Durant out, the Thunder went big, starting 7-foot C Steven Adams, 6-11 F Perry Jones and 6-10 Serge Ibaka on the front line. … … Portland shot .372 from 3-point range last season, but only .306 in four games against the Thunder. “You have to get back in transition and have bodies close to their catch,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “They shoot shots when you don’t think they’re going to take them.” … Portland C Meyers Leonard (upper respiratory illness) did not play. … Will G Russell Westbrook take more responsibility with the Thunder in Durant’s absence, just as Durant did when Westbrook was injured last season? “I would think so,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “There’s not a better competitor in the league than Russell. He’s going to have the leadership mantle to carry. This is an opportunity, and he’s probably going to thrive.”

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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