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News » Trail Blazers-Thunder Preview

Trail Blazers-Thunder Preview

Trail Blazers-Thunder Preview
Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy and coach Nate McMillan were among the many people around the NBA sorry to see the Seattle SuperSonics move to Oklahoma City.

Based on the Blazers' lack of success in Seattle over the last five seasons, however, the change of venue might have its benefits for Portland.

The Blazers visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night in the Northwest Division rivals' first meeting since the Seattle franchise moved before this season.

Roy is a Seattle native who starred at the University of Washington and grew up cheering for the Sonics. McMillan had his No. 10 jersey retired by the Sonics in 1999, one year after his 12-year career with the franchise ended and one year before he started his five-year tenure as Seattle's coach.

Both Roy and McMillan expressed regret when Seattle had its team taken, but they might appreciate a trip to Oklahoma City on Friday night. The Blazers (30-18) lost eight of their last 10 games in Seattle, including both trips there last season in a frustrating conclusion to the 38-year-old I-5 rivalry.

Roy, recently named to his second All-Star team, was held to 14.0 points and 36.9 percent shooting in four career games in Seattle and Portland was 1-3 in those contests.

While Roy's return trips to Seattle and the looming departure of the Sonics were the stories in those games, the spotlight Friday will likely shift to the first meeting between Blazers center Greg Oden and Thunder forward Kevin Durant, taken first and second overall, respectively, in the 2007 draft.

The players are squaring off for the first time because Oden missed all of last season while recovering from microfracture surgery on his right knee.

Oden has averaged 5.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in his last three games after averaging 16.4 points and 11.4 boards over his previous five.

Durant, who took advantage of Oden's absence to cruise to rookie of the year honors last season, is averaging 31.3 points and 8.6 rebounds while shooting 51.9 percent over his last nine games.

Durant had 31 points, eight rebounds and seven assists Wednesday night before Oklahoma City gave up a game-winning shot to Carmelo Anthony for the second time this season in a 114-113 home loss to Denver.

With their third straight loss, the Thunder fell to 2-16 in games decided by six points or fewer.

"We have to put the blame on ourselves," forward Nick Collison said. "We didn't get enough stops. We let the game slip away in the third quarter. The good teams get stops late in games."

The Blazers were thinking the same thing after a 104-99 loss to Dallas snapped their five-game winning streak Wednesday night. The Blazers, who are 18-5 at home, fell to 12-13 on the road heading into the finale of a three-game trip.

"It's frustrating because we want to take that next step as a team," said Roy, who had 26 points. "We know we have to get better, especially on the road, if we want to be one of the top teams."

Portland allowed Dallas to shoot 55.1 percent from the field, and McMillan said his team looked a step slow at both ends of the court.

"Whenever you play a team like this, or any team, you've got to be sharp and execute," he told the Blazers' official Web site. "You've got to make plays down the stretch, you've got to know what you're doing and make your reads, and tonight we didn't do that."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: February 5, 2009


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