OKLAHOMA CITY – Just four hours before the Trail Blazers and Thunder tipped off from Chesapeake Energy Arena, reports surfaced that Portland had traded Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to Sacramento.
With the two forwards no longer with the team, along with the recent injury coming Friday night in Dallas keeping CJ McCollum out of Saturday's game due to a left ankle sprain, the Trail Blazers suited up the league minimum eight players versus the Thunder.
And one of those eight players was Gary Trent Jr. who is still dealing with a “flu-like” illness.
Fortunately for the Blazers, Trent Jr. said before the game he was feeling better and had more energy.
After being down by as many as 13 points in the first quarter, it looked as though the Blazers were going to be able to rally back after outscoring OKC in the second quarter. But, it was apparent the short-handed Blazers ran out of gas by the fourth.
Here are three quick takeaways from Saturday's loss:
1. If you suit up, you had to play for Blazers
Besides Damian Lillard, Gary Trent Jr. was the only other Blazer in double figures midway through the second quarter. Lillard already notched 24 points at the break. But with McCollum out, Lillard was also trying to get his teammates more involved on the offense. He had four of the Blazers’ six assists in the first half.
It was a night for the young Blazers to show what they got.
Fighting through a flu bug, Trent Jr. hit his first seven shots. He didn’t miss a shot until the 2:54 mark of the third quarter. The second-year player showed his composure while getting extended minutes. Trent Jr. was Portland’s second-leading scoring on the night with a career-high 30 points.
2. CP3 leads the charge for OKC
Chris Paul was the Thunder's leading scoring at halftime with 21 points, while also being the hype man for OKC fans in attendance. With the trade deadline approaching, Thunder fans are making sure to show their love for the starting point guard. CP3 finished with 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting.
3. The battle on the boards
Through three quarters, Oklahoma City was outrebounding Portland, 39-32. Hassan Whiteside had nine of those 32 boards; however, Blazer fans have become accustomed to Whiteside reaching double-digit rebounds by the fourth quarter.
Up Next: The Trail Blazers host the Golden State Warriors on Monday. The Blazers and Warriors tip-off at 7:00pm.
Check back throughout tonight and tomorrow for more articles and videos from the players!