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News » Thunder-Trail Blazers Preview


Thunder-Trail Blazers Preview


Thunder-Trail Blazers Preview
In the first NBA meeting between the top two picks in the 2007 draft, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder got the better of Greg Oden and the Portland Trail Blazers.

After responding with one of the best games of his brief career, Oden hopes things go a little differently in the rematch.

Oden hopes to build off a strong performance as the Trail Blazers host Durant and the Thunder on Wednesday night.

Oden and Durant were locks to be the first two players selected in the 2007 draft, and Portland opted to take Oden first overall.

That decision has been questioned because of Oden's injury history. The 7-footer struggled to stay healthy in his one season at Ohio State, and missed the entire 2007-08 campaign following microfracture surgery on his right knee.

In Oden's absence, Durant captured rookie of the year honors playing with the Seattle SuperSonics.

Critics of the Blazers' selection got more ammunition in the players' first NBA meeting on Friday. Durant had 31 points to lead the Thunder (13-39) to a 102-93 win over the Blazers (31-19). Oden got into foul trouble and finished with four points and two rebounds in 16 minutes.

Durant, averaging 32.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting 54.1 percent from the field over his last seven games, insisted he didn't take any special pleasure in beating the only player drafted ahead of him.

"It was just a regular game for me," said Durant, who had faced Oden only once before - in the 2006 McDonald's All-American high school game. "I tried to play with enthusiasm and fire like I always do."

Durant will need another strong outing if Oden can come close to duplicating his last game. Two days after his flop in Oklahoma City, Oden had 17 points, 12 rebounds and a season-high six blocked shots in a 109-108 win over New York.

"Greg had a really nice game and was a force on both ends," said Portland coach Nate McMillan after the Blazers improved to 12-3 when Oden records a double-double.

Portland trailed by 13 with eight minutes left before outscoring New York 25-11 the rest of the way, winning on Brandon Roy's finger-roll at the buzzer. With the victory, the Blazers avoided losing three straight for the first time since Dec. 9-12.

"We needed this game, we were struggling," said Roy, who had 19 points and eight assists. "We dug in and we didn't quit tonight."

While the Blazers pulled out a comeback win in their last game, the Thunder couldn't keep up with the league-best Los Angeles Lakers.

Though Durant had 31 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals, he was 10-for-23 from the field and Oklahoma City shot 39.3 percent in the 105-98 loss on Tuesday. Still, coach Scott Brooks was encouraged.

"It was a good effort, but playing against the best team in basketball has to be a flawless effort," Brooks said. "We did not have that, but we played hard. ... That is the best team in basketball. We competed with them."

This is the Oklahoma City franchise's first trip to Portland since the team moved from Seattle. The SuperSonics lost their last three visits to the Rose Garden.

Snapping that skid, though, could be tough. The Blazers have won seven of eight at home to improve to 19-5 there in 2008-09.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 11, 2009

 

 
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