Currently on a outward looking in during a playoff picture, a Oklahoma City Thunder need a clever two-game finish to have a possibility during a final mark in a Western Conference.
They might have to open that widen yet Russell Westbrook, who will expected be dangling for Monday night’s vicious competition with a Portland Trail Blazers.
Westbrook posted nonetheless another superb opening Sunday, scoring a career-high 54 points on 43 margin idea attempts – a many in a non-overtime diversion given Kobe Bryant took 44 shots en track to 81 points on Jan. 22, 2006 – yet a Thunder (43-37) fell to Indiana 116-104, withdrawal their playoff hopes in critical jeopardy.
“His rival suggestion kept us in this game,” manager Scott Brooks told a Thunder’s central website. “Even with all of those things function to use – a giveaway throws and a easy opportunities in transition – those are a things that Russell does. He plays with a lot of heart, enterprise and integrity and he puts us in a position to win a game.”
Oklahoma City is now tied with New Orleans for a No. 8 mark with a Pelicans owning a tiebreaker. New Orleans visits Minnesota on Monday and hosts San Antonio on Wednesday, while a Thunder tighten that same night during Minnesota.
That severe trail to a postseason grew potentially many some-more formidable after Westbrook warranted a controversial technical tainted Sunday, his 16th of a season. Unless it’s rescinded by a NBA, a star indicate ensure will be dangling for Monday’s diversion by NBA rules.
Brooks voiced small regard for Westbrook after a game.
”I’m flattering assured this one will be rescinded,” Brooks said. ”That’s not my decision, yet we feel assured about it.”
The Trail Blazers (51-29) will enter a postseason in a No. 4 mark after winning a Northwest Division for a initial time given 2008-09, when they common a local climax with Denver. Still, they’ll open a playoffs on a highway after clinching a sixth-best record in a West.
Portland hopes to build some arrange of movement to tighten a deteriorate after dropping dual straight. The Trail Blazers mislaid during Golden State on Thursday before descending 111-105 during home to Utah on Saturday as LaMarcus Aldridge sat out with a left feet sprain.
The Jazz shot 42 giveaway throws with Aldridge out – a many Portland has authorised this season. Aldridge is controversial to face a Thunder.
”There’s unequivocally not an forgive for personification a approach we did,” manager Terry Stotts said. ”It’s really disappointing, really frustrating and hopefully it was really sobering for everybody. … Offense comes and goes, yet we didn’t move a defensive mentality, regardless of who plays. We yet it was going to be easier than it was.”
Portland can secure a initial deteriorate brush of a Thunder given a 2002-03 season, when a authorization resided in Seattle. Westbrook tallied 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists on Feb. 27, yet Aldridge and Damian Lillard scored 29 every to secure a 115-112 victory.
Westbrook scored 40 and 38 points in Oklahoma City’s other dual defeats to a Trail Blazers this season.
Arron Afflalo, who has averaged 10.6 points given fasten Portland on Feb. 19, stays out with a bruise shoulder.