Thunder Suffer First New Year’s Eve Loss Of The OKC Era

Thunder Suffer First New Year’s Eve Loss Of The OKC Era

Well, it was bound to happen at some point. It’s as the saying goes, “You can’t win them all.” Before last night, the Thunder were 5-0 on New Year’s Eve in the OKC era. Now, they’re 5-1.

LaMarcus Aldridge attempts to back down Steven Adams. Aldridge was the Thunder killer again last night, finishing with 25 points and 14 rebounds.

LaMarcus Aldridge attempts to back down Steven Adams. Aldridge was the Thunder killer again last night, finishing with 25 points and 14 rebounds.

Of course, this was also the first New Year’s Eve that Russell Westbrook was forced to miss because of recovery from a third knee surgery that will have him out until mid-February.

Kevin Durant goes up for the jumper. Durant finished with a 37-point, 14-rebound double-double.

Kevin Durant goes up for the jumper. Durant finished with a 37-point, 14-rebound double-double.

The bad news for the Thunder is that this loss now has them down 0-2 to the Blazers in the season series. With 2 games remaining, a January 21st contest in OKC and a February 11th contest in Portland, the best the Thunder can hope for now is to tie the season series. This is very unfamiliar territory for the Thunder in regards to the Trail Blazers, seeing as before the December 4th loss to them, the Thunder had beat the Blazers in 8 straight matchups. And looking at those two dates, it becomes fairly obvious that Westbrook will not be in the lineup for either game.

Serge Ibaka goes for the hook shot as Nicolas Batum and Damien Lillard look on. Ibaka finished with 17 points. Lillard dropped 21, and Batum added 15 for the Blazers.

Serge Ibaka goes for the hook shot as Nicolas Batum and Damian Lillard look on. Ibaka finished with 17 points. Lillard dropped 21, and Batum added 15 for the Blazers.

More bad news for the Thunder is that this loss came after blowing a 16-point lead.

Reggie Jackson drives as Damien Lillard trails. Jackson finished with 12 points, while Lillard finished with 21.

Reggie Jackson drives as Lillard trails. Jackson finished with 12 points.

The 1st quarter stayed pretty close, with a lot of back-and-forth. This quarter alone saw 6 ties and 10 lead changes, with the largest lead being the Thunder’s 6.

Kevin Durant drives as Nicolas Batum trails. Durant finished with a 37-point 14-rebound double-double. Batum ended his night with 15 points.

Durant drives as Batum trails.

The 2nd quarter provided major false hope for the Thunder fanatic. At the 5:15 mark, with the score 40-36, two Kevin Durant free throws sparked a 12-0 run that put the Thunder up 16 (52-36). Although a 6-2 Blazer run before halftime cut the lead down to 12 at the half (54-42).

Kevin Durant goes airbourne. Durant finished with 37 points and 14 rebounds.

Durant goes airborne.

The 3rd quarter saw the Blazers slowly, but surely cut into the Thunder lead. There were no ties or lead changes in this quarter, but the Blazers still outscored the Thunder by 5 in the 3rd, and were headed into the 4th only down by 7 (78-71).

Wesley Matthews attempts to get around Serge Ibaka for the lay-in. Matthews finished with 16 points. Ibaka ended his night with 17 points.

Wesley Matthews attempts to get around Ibaka for the lay-in. Matthews finished with 16 points.

The 4th quarter was when the bottom fell out for the Thunder. The defense was nowhere to be found when the Blazers sparked an 12-2 run with 9:22 left in the game to claim a 1-point lead (87-86) with just under 4 minutes to play. The Thunder tried to hold them off, but in the end, they just let the Blazers build too much momentum in the 4th. It resulted in a 98-94 loss, dropping the Thunder to 25-6, while improving the Blazers to 25-7.

Kevin Durant throws down.

Kevin Durant throws down.

While Durant’s 37-point, 14 rebound double-double is nothing to scoff at, it failed to secure a Thunder victory. Serge Ibaka chipped in 17 points, Reggie Jackson added 12, and Jeremy Lamb dropped 10 from off the bench. Lamb’s 10 was actually enough to outscore the entirety of the Blazers’ bench, who combined for a grand total of 7 points.

Jeremy Lamb tries to go around Robin Lopez to lay one in. Lamb finished with 10 points from the Thunder bench. Lopez finished with 12 points.

Jeremy Lamb tries to go around Robin Lopez to lay one in. Lamb finished with 10 points from the Thunder bench. Lopez finished with 12 points.

The thing is, the Blazers have no need for bench scoring when the lowest-scoring starter, Robin Lopez, drops 12 points. Nicolas Batum added 15, Wesley Matthews posted 16 points, Damian Lillard dropped 21, and LaMarcus Aldridge had a 25-point 14-rebound double-double.

LaMarcus Aldridge looks to back down Serge Ibaka. Aldridge finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds. Ibaka ended his night with 17 points.

LaMarcus Aldridge looks to back down Ibaka.

The Thunder at least have New Year’s Day to recover from the disappointment before they throw down the welcome mat for the Brooklyn Nets tomorrow night. Tip off is scheduled for 7pm CST, and will be broadcast via Fox Sports Oklahoma, WWLS The Sports Animal, and NBA TV.

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