Thunder Beat Blazers, Set Up Wild Season Finale
OKLAHOMA CITY - Russell Westbrook scored 36 points, and the Thunder beat the Portland Trail Blazers 101-90 on Monday night to keep their playoff hopes alive.Westbrook picked up his 16th technical at Indiana on Sunday, which would have been an automatic one-game suspension. It was rescinded on Monday morning, allowing him to play in critical game for the Thunder.
Enes Kanter added 27 points and 13 rebounds for the Thunder, who would have been eliminated from the Western Conference playoff race with a loss.
Meyers Leonard scored a career-high 24 points for Portland. The Trail Blazers, who already were locked into the No. 4 spot in the West, were without injured starters LaMarcus Aldridge (left foot sprain) and Arron Afflalo (right shoulder strain).
The Thunder need a win at Minnesota and a loss by New Orleans at home against San Antonio on Wednesday to advance. Any other scenario, and New Orleans secures the No. 8 seed.
Westbrook followed up his career-high 54-point effort Sunday by making 13 of 27 shots to extend his lead over Houston's James Harden in the race for the scoring title. He scored 17 points in the first half, and Oklahoma City led 49-42 at the break. The Thunder shot just 35 percent in the first half, but they had 13 offensive rebounds and 10 second-chance points.
Damian Lillard's 28-foot 3-pointer cut Oklahoma City's lead to five with about seven minutes left in the third quarter before the Thunder went on a 7-0 run, highlighted by a 3-point play by Dion Waiters, to go up 66-54. Westbrook scored 13 points in the third quarter, and Oklahoma City led 81-70 heading into the fourth.
Portland cut Oklahoma City's lead to six midway through the fourth, but Anthony Morrow quickly drained a 3-pointer, and the Thunder maintained control from there.
Oklahoma City held Lillard, an All-Star, to 10 points on 3-for-9 shooting.
Trail Blazers: Leonard started for just the seventh time this season. ... G C.J. McCollum started for just third time this season. He sprained his left ankle in the final seconds of the first half and did not return. ... F Nicolas Batum left the game in the first quarter after holding his right knee and did not return. X-rays were negative. ... Lillard joined Clyde Drexler as the only Trail Blazers to have more than 1,700 points and 500 assists in a season.
Thunder: Oklahoma City won despite making just 4 of 21 3-pointers . ... The Thunder outrebounded Portland 19-6 in the first quarter and 58-35 in the game. ... Adams made 2 of 8 free throws in the first half, but made both of his attempts in the second. ... Westbrook also had 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Portland: At Dallas on Wednesday.
Thunder: At Minnesota on Wednesday.