Trail Blazers defeat Thunder 120-115, clinch playoff berth
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) —
Al-Farouq Aminu scored 27 points, C.J. McCollum had 26 and the Portland Trail Blazers clinched a playoff berth with a 120-115 win over the short-handed Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.
Allen Crabbe hit four 3-pointers and scored 16 points for Portland as six Blazers scored in double figures. Portland (43-37) won for the fifth time in six games and became the first team in NBA history to earn a playoff berth while returning a roster that had two or fewer players with 1,000 or more minutes from the previous season (Damian Lillard, Chris Kaman).
Enes Kanter had a career-high 33 points and 20 rebounds for the Thunder, and Dion Waiters had 25 points.
Oklahoma City, which clinched the West's No. 3 seed with Tuesday's win at Denver, rested four starters, including All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Portland scored a season high for a first half in taking a 72-59 halftime lead, making 25 of 42 shots.
McCollum, Aminu and Maurice Harkless hit 3-pointers as the Blazers ran off 11 consecutive points to take a 17-6 lead. Aminu led Portland early, scoring 13 of the team's first 21 points.
Oklahoma City pulled to within four points at 36-32 early in the second quarter, but McCollum scored the first five points during a 9-0 run that helped the Blazers regain a double-digit lead. Portland tied a season high with 39 second-quarter points. Kanter helped keep the Thunder in the game, with 17 points and 10 rebounds during the first half.
McCollum and Aminu hit 3-pointers to start the second half, and Portland had an 84-63 lead four minutes into the third quarter. Oklahoma City was unwilling to go quietly, as Kanter scored back-to-back baskets early in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 10.
But the Blazers soon stretched the lead back to 16, and held on during the final minutes.
Thunder: Randy Foye and Kanter made their first Oklahoma City starts of the season against Portland. The only regular starter to play was C Steven Adams. ... Westbrook was the only regular starter who had played in each of Oklahoma City's previous 78 games. ... Oklahoma City split the four-game season series with the Blazers, each team winning two games at home. ... The Thunder have lost four straight in Portland.
Trail Blazers: With a playoff bid clinched, Portland now has its eye on the No. 5 seed. The Blazers are currently one-half game behind No. 5 Memphis, with a far easier remaining schedule. Portland finishes the season with home games against Minnesota and Denver. Memphis (42-36) has four games remaining: two against Golden State, plus Dallas and the Los Angeles Clippers. ... Mark Mason, the Blazers' long-time public address announcer, missed Wednesday's game for the first time in 843 games with an illness. ... The Blazers have had at least five double-digit scorers in 12 consecutive games.
Thunder: At Sacramento on Saturday
Trail Blazers: Home vs. Minnesota on Saturday
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