Wallace, Batum A Dandy Duo vs. Durant

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Gang-guarding Kevin Durant is one thing. Gang-guarding the Oklahoma City Thunder’s scoring star and getting the desired happy results is quite another.

For the Portland Trail Blazers Tuesday night in OKC, small forwards Gerald Wallace and Nicolas Batum led a group effort that paid off in a 103-93 victory. Wallace and Batum bothered Durant into 8-for-26 shooting and the Blazers fouled him only twice in shooting situations. Durant’s 19 points were only the second time he finished with fewer than 27 this season and the fewest he has scored in defeat since his 11-point, 3-of-14 night against Memphis in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals last May.

“My thing was just to try to stay into him, make him take tough shots, take contested shots, keep a body on him,” Wallace said after Portland moved atop the conference standings, the only team on that side of the NBA with only one loss (Chicago, Miami and Indiana woke up as the lone-defeated out East).

“You don’t want him running free the whole time,” Wallace said.

The Blazers played bump-and-chase with Durant, wrote Joe Freeman of The Oregonian:

Wallace pushed and prodded Durant all game, making him fight to get open. And Baum chased Durant all night, making him shoot contested shots. Durant said afterward he got “good looks” but also credited the Blazers’ defense, which held the Thunder to 40 points and 34.2 percent shooting in the second half.

“They did a great job of stopping him when he needed them to,” [Portland guard Raymond] Felton said. “Making him shoot contested, tough shots. Not letting him get in his comfort zone. … I’m proud of both of them.”

There were others, natch. LaMarcus Aldridge worked inside and out for 30 points on 10-of-19. Felton and Wes Matthews combined for 28 points, nine assists and 10 rebounds. Wallace and Batum provided 25 points and 17 rebounds in a combined 57-plus minutes.

As Felton said afterward, it’s only Game 5 of the season – not Game 5 of a possible playoff series between the Thunder, heavily favored in the Northwest Division, and the Blazers. But Portland fans are encouraged by what they saw on TV Tuesday, along with the sense that the Blazers will continue to adapt, post-Brandon Roy, and get better as the season progresses.

Oh, and there is some precedent working in the Blazers’ favor: The last time the NBA emerged from a lockout, back in February 1999, Portland pulled itself together on the fly and went 16-2 a few weeks into that truncated season to vault from fourth in their division that season to first, reaching the conference finals.

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35 Comments

  1. zenun says:

    softy
    come on man its basketball!what the referees see is what the players get sometimes its good sometimes its bad that’s just basketball.International basketball just have different rules no one have better officiating than the other.If you think no talent PBA has better officiating then I suggest don’t watch NBA so that you won’t get frustrated not by the loss of your team but by the calls the referees are making

  2. Thanh VO says:

    Lamarcus Aldridge is a Beast #1 PF in the league

    • Jkey says:

      Always had a soft spot for Aldridge. Very solid, consistent player and doesn’t get as much recognition as others. Hope the Blazers go well this year and make it to the play-offs after all they have been through with Oden and Roy.

  3. Softy says:

    I hate to say this but NBA basketball becomes softy.. easily getting fouls on just body contact esp. to star players therefore they get 30 pts a night by just shooting free throws..
    International Basketball specifically PBA has better officiating than NBA.. here they let the players play..regular games or playoff games..I mean body contact is okay unless the defender touches the ball handlers hand or stepping on his foot.. Same rules on jordan era.. just being physical..
    I hope they apply this officiating again :D

  4. B-ROY!! #7always and forever says:

    GO BLAZERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;)

  5. 3000thunder says:

    trailblazers r good sad to see 2nd loss by thunder…if anything thunder can learn sooner than later from this game if they which progress in the playoffs which am sure they will make to…OKC stay strong!!!!!!!

  6. josh says:

    The Blazers showed they can play with anyone since they beat one of the 2 best teams in the nba. And on the road, wow. Impressive depth in Portland.

  7. spliff says:

    defensive efforts win games, period. blazers players were all over these guys last night, making OKC look like college players at times, and yes, sometimes players can throw up anything and it goes in, thats not batums fault, thats just basketball…like every other player has once in a while, but the point is that when you shut down durant OKC isnt deep enough to pick up the slack, I dont see OKC going far in playoffs until other players know when to take over and show leadership when their starchild isnt scoring, and as far as the crowd booing every play, oklahoma city isnt basketball town, its college football and durant town, you want to see YEARS of bad calls come up to portland and watch some games, you’ll see that basketball, like life, isnt always fair.

  8. charles says:

    someone was saying that Durant and Westbrooke not getting along is not a big deal. Well, in a team sport hurt feelings can translate to losses.

  9. Todd says:

    Here is an AMAZING thought. Oden or not, Had the Blazers selected Durant, he would be playing alongside La Marcus on this same well-balanced BLAZER team right now. That certainly would put them as the favorite to win multiple titles, and they might average 120 points per night.

  10. Erik says:

    OKC is a loaded team but when I look at the lineups that Portland was throwing out there I saw a lot of times Portland just looked better of course Harding is a must of the bench for okc’s reserve scoring. It will take some time to see who is the better team but There is a great chance that the time is now for these two northwestern division teams.

  11. Reeferal says:

    It’s about time the Blazers started playing to earn their Payroll. They’re among one of the most expensive teams in the NBA and – because of injuries – had nothing to show for it. I hope this year these two teams meet again in the Conference Finals.

  12. I wrote in the name of LuisG. And I agree that Portland is playing excellent basketball in spite of I haven´t seen any Portland´s game. It seems the same way for Denver too.

    Excellent teams on West and East.

  13. Hyler says:

    It’s about time an officiating crew refused to baby Durant and send him to the line any time someone looked at him wrong. He can’t play physical ball and the refs, for the first time I’ve watched him play, we’re out there making sure ESPN was happy by rewarded him with miniscule shooting fouls. Durant’s inability to play through contact is why ‘Melo is still the best scorer in the game.

    Wallace is an under appreciated defender. He’s dominated LeBron before and Durant is even easier for a physical defender to shut down.

  14. Sampson says:

    Oh man…the blazers are NICE this year…I thought Memphis would be the breakout team this year with rudy gay back but now that Z-bo is out, the blazers are easily a top 3 team in the west.

  15. Kayla says:

    @OKCKD35
    Obviously you were a completely objective outside viewer but as I was watching the game last night I noticed something, OKC fans do not have a very high basketball IQ. They booed after EVERY call that didn’t go in their favor, justified or not. Also I thought the game was pretty fairly called compared to many. Was there missed or bad calls on both sides of the ball? Of course! That’s basketball. I think what OKC fans don’t want to admit is that Portland just flat out outplayed them last night in OKC. Come to game at the Rose Garden sometime and we’ll show you the appropriate times to boo and even clap for fouls.

  16. Colin says:

    OKCKD35. You’re like any typical fan that has a bad night when your guys lose. KD said himself in a tweet “I couldn’t throw a rock in the ocean if I was standing in front of one, tonight”. He takes responsibility for the loss, as he should! He was matched up with two elite wing players with help. He couldn’t do much. And if you want to talk about “unfair” calls, when was the last time a call went in favor of the Blazers? Us Blazer fans can cry about that all day long! Just watch Game 1 of the Mavs/Blazers last playoffs and you’ll see whacking and grabbing not being called against the Mavs. Face it, the more aggressive teams get the call and Portland was more aggressive. Portland outplayed your golden team and the NBA’s flavor of the month! And, dare I say, the Blazers ARE the better team in the west. Now, they just know how to show it. DEAL WITH IT!

    • Yeah says:

      ^^^^^THIS^^^^^

    • tmoks says:

      I don’t think Portland’s the better team. Not to take away from the win or anything, but Durant missed alot of OPEN shots he usually cans, OKC couldn’t finish at the rim on uncontested layups or putbacks, and Batum was hoisting up some ridiculous ones that were falling. Portland’s solid, but I don’t think Portland got OKC’s best game, and I’m not the only one who thinks that.

      I’m glad Durant owned the loss, because if he even shoots 40% and doesn’t miss free throws, OKC wins that game handily.

      • Colin says:

        If you look at talent level, Portland has it over OKC top to bottom. Let’s look at it this way; If OKC lives or dies by how Durant performs night in or night out, the team loses if he doesn’t play well. If any ONE player in Portland doesn’t have a great game, there is someone else to pick up the slack because the talent and depth is there. Who is there to pick up the slack if KD isn’t playing stellar? Westbrook? That’s about it and even he is very streaky.

      • move on. says:

        outside of durant not shooting well. okc played well. held a lead after 1. the blazers played some tough d and didn’t turn the ball over like they did in the first quarter. remember durant consistantly has had off nights against portland.
        there is also no one on the okc roster that can matchup 1 on 1 with lamarcus. perkins/ibaka.

      • B747 says:

        “If you look at talent level, Portland has it over OKC top to bottom.” @Colin really?? felton over westbrook? matthews over harden? wallace over durant? okay, aldridge over ibaka. then, camby over perk?? obviously a blazers fan.

  17. Kevin says:

    Can you guys imagine how the Blazers would look like with both Oden and Roy healthy?

    Scary.

    • Yeah says:

      It would have been terrific, that team was suposed to be a dinasty & was as deep as this new Blazers team or even deeper, but i also like Portland a lot just the way they are now, they’re looking pretty good.

  18. RIP CITY says:

    BLAZERS ARE LOOKING REALLY GOOD WITH THIS NEW LINEUP:
    ALDRIDGE NEVER LOOKED SO GOOD, I’M SURE HE WILL CONTINUE IMPROVING
    FELTON IS FINDING HIS OLD RHYTHM WITH HIS NEW TEAM
    WALLACE & BATUM ARE TWO DEFENSIVE BEASTS AND CAN DUNK, SHOOT 3’S, BLOCK & REBOUND
    MATTHEWS IS MATURING AND EMBRACING HIS STARTING ROLE
    JAMAL CRAWFORD IS A BOOST FROM THE BENCH AND CAN SHOOT FROM ANY ANGLE
    CAMBY AND THOMAS ARE STILL TWO GOOD CENTERS
    BELIEVE ME WHEN I SAY THIS TEAM HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO REACH THE FINALS THIS YEAR
    GO BLAZERS!

  19. OKCKD35 says:

    i watched this game and the way the game was called was ridiculous, KD was being mugged in his own building with no calls. (only fouled Durant twice in shooting situations) They were only called twice. There was a stretch in the 3rd quarter where Durant took the ball to the hoop 4 times in a row with contact, the only call was a charge even though the defender was not set. I just dont see how the refs can call a slight tap on harden on a player already falling out of bounds yet not call all the grabbing and holding off of screens and the contact at the hoop. The entire building was booing the officiating crew. Any close call was awarded the the Trailblazers. This game was 105 decided by officiating.

    • Crispy says:

      Lol someones raging because poor KD didnt drop 30 points. Of course they would boo the refs in their home arena thats what fans do everywhere bud. Think before you post your comments.

    • DROSEMVP1 says:

      As a neutral fan, all I saw was great defense and KD35 not getting the rediculous calls he normally gets. I hope the NBA really tries to bring things back to the days when the offensive player creating contact and flailing about does not automatically get a defensive foul. KD isn’t that bad about flailing either. But I saw him look to the refs many times last night on what were great defensive plays. There were also times when I thought there could have been some calls too, don’t get me wrong, but I found it refreshing to see a game just play, and the Blazers looked better last night. I love KD and his game, and I know he’ll knock down those open jumpers next time these teams play, and then it may be a Thunder win.

      I also know that Rose gets the same star calls a lot, and I know that as a Bulls fan, I think every one of them is deserved, but I also know that if I took a step back, I’d see that he was getting the same star treatment as every other star. Again, last night was refreshing to see the refs do an amazing job and not just hand out superstar calls.

      It will be interesting to see who matches up with my Bulls in the finals. I could see either of these teams making a big run.

    • Michael says:

      OKCKD… Your comment is typical of all home team fans, I do it sometimes too, but to say the Blazers won due to bad officiating is simply sour grapes, sore looser stuff, and NOT TRUE! You have a great team, don’t lower yourself to blaming the refs. Man up and just give the Blazers some credit. They are becoming a better team than we (ptld) have had in some time, even with Roy. It was a great game all around.

  20. Kiko says:

    Portland saught after a bunch of defensive players over the years and it finally is paying off, if there is any bright side to Brandon Roy hanging it up, this is it.

  21. QuestionMark says:

    The Thunders have to know that they have other players who can step up if Durant struggles, Westbrook and Harden both have to play, they also have Ibaka who can score, if this happens in the Playoffs, OKC won’t go far.

  22. jeff says:

    BLAZERSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!! I think if Felton can hold on to the ball, they finish in the top 2 in the west. They have a team of solid players, just like Dallas last year. It takes more than a big 3 with some kind of good 6th man to win a championship, it takes solid play from all 5 plus 3 more. That’s the sign of a team that can go all the way.

  23. LuisG. says:

    Men in the West conference the issue is too tight:

    Okc, Portland, LA, Clippers, Dallas, San Antonio, Memphis…and so on. This player, Lamarcus Aldridge is too good. I haven´t s seen this player before just in this recap video….Very good player, old school.

    In the other hand, East conference even more tight too:

    Orlando, Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, Miami, New York, Indiana…and so on.