OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Russell Westbrook called his play in Game 2 “unacceptable.”
It was more than acceptable in Game 3. He had 33 points and 11 assists and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Portland Trail Blazers 120-108 on Friday night to cut their series deficit to 2-1.
Thunder forward Paul George called Westbrook a man of his word.
“He led, we got behind him and he put us on his back,” George said.
George scored 22 points, Jerami Grant had 18 and Dennis Schroder 17 for the Thunder. They will host Game 4 of the best-of-seven series on Sunday night.
Damian Lillard scored 32 points, but he had just three in the fourth quarter after scoring 25 in the third. He made 8 of 11 shots in the third quarter, but missed all four of his field goals in the fourth.
“Their defense pretty much stayed the same,” Lillard said of Oklahoma City’s fourth-quarter strategy. “They got a little more aggressive on the ball. Instead of just trying to stay in front of me, they were coming up a little higher.”
C.J. McCollum had 21 points and Enes Kanter added 19 for the Trail Blazers.
Oklahoma City closed the second quarter on a 10-1 run to take a 49-39 lead. Lillard was held to four points on 2 -for-6 shooting and the Trail Blazers shot 37.5% in the half.
George hit a 3-pointer, was fouled and made the free throw in the opening minutes of the second half to push Oklahoma City’s lead to 55-43. Westbrook backed down Lillard, hit a bank shot and was fouled. Westbrook brought out his “rock the baby” celebration, then made the free throw to put Oklahoma City up by 15.
“I didn’t even see him do it,” Lillard said. “A lot of times, I’m waiting for the ball to be inbounded, so I’m not looking at what’s going on the other way. So rock the baby on a jump shot? I mean, you can do that all day.”
Whether Lillard was inspired or not, he scored 23 points the rest of the quarter to help cut Oklahoma City’s lead to 86-82 at the end of the period. McCollum hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 89 early in the fourth.
Oklahoma City regained control, then kept it. Westbrook hit a wild 26-foot 3-pointer over Lillard with 1:20 to go that put the Thunder up by 14, then he told Lillard all about it.
Trail Blazers: Westbrook usually says “Next question” when Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel asks him anything. During the pregame media session, Portland coach Terry Stotts went up to the podium with a smile, looked at Tramel and said, “Go ahead, Berry. I’ll answer your question,” drawing laughter from the reporters. Westbrook gave Tramel his typical response after the game. … F Maurice Harkless was called for a technical in the final minute for throwing his headband.
Thunder: Derek Williamson of Midwest City, Oklahoma, had 24 seconds to make a half-court shot for $20,000 from MidFirst Bank. He drained his last try. Later, Jesse Norman of Prague, Oklahoma, made one for another $20,000. … Grant hit a 3-pointer in the opening minute after missing his first eight in the series. … Westbrook was called for a technical in the final minute.
George threw down a monster dunk right after time expired that didn’t count.
Lillard wasn’t impressed.
“Typically people say you shouldn’t do stuff like that, but honestly, I really couldn’t care less,” he said. “The game had been decided. If that’s something that they needed to do to make themselves feel more dominant or feel better, then so be it.”
The Thunder made 10 of 61 3-pointers in the first two games in Portland. They made 15 of 29 in Game 3.
Grant made 4 of 5 3s and guard Terrance Ferguson made 3 of 4 attempts.
“They’ve been hitting shots all year,” Westbrook said. “I’m going to make the right play. The guys on the floor made the right play and I’m going to continue to trust my teammates.”
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