The Trail Blazers and Thunder have shown time and time again that these two teams do not like each other. The playoffs have heightened that dislike.
Whether it was Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook getting into a friendly shoving match after Westerbrook fell to the floor late in the second quarter or big men Zach Collins and Markieff Morris being hit with offsetting technicals, there’s no doubt the physical play is here to stay.
Game 2 was as much of a battle as Game 1 and it was an exciting one at that. OKC led for a majority of the first half, but after Lillard scored 12 points in the second quarter and McCollum hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half, the Blazers and Thunder were all tied at 54.
Portland’s third quarter defense was the turning point in the game. The Blazers held the Thunder to just 21 points in the quarter and they never looked back. Portland takes Game 2, 114-94.
The Trail Blazers now go up a 2-0 as the best of seven-series shifts to Oklahoma City.
Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers Game 2 victory:
1. A healthy dose of Adams to start
The Thunder started the game by getting Steven Adams involved. Adams got a lot of touches and went right at Enes Kanter. The Blazers starting center picked up two quick fouls midway through the first quarter.
In his first nine minutes of play, Adams went 3-of-4 from the field to score six points. Kanter's early foul trouble seemed to affect his offensive game. Kanter was not much of a factor in the Blazers scoring in Game 2.
2. Schroder stuck on Lillard
Backup point guard Dennis Schroder’s assignment for Game 2 was simple:
Make it as tough as humanly possible for Lillard to even sniff the ball.
Schroder was stuck on Lillard like glue. He had a hand or arm on Lillard at all times. The Blazers starting point guard had a hard time getting shots up early on with the pesky Schorder guarding him. Lillard went 2-of-5 and 0-of-2 from three in his first 12 minutes of action.
However, when Lillard returned to the game in the second quarter, it was apparent he was determined to get off shots no matter how difficult they were. Lillard brought the house down with two very contested threes in the second quarter.
🔥🏀Damian Lillard shooting fireballs in the second quarter 🔥🏀 pic.twitter.com/Fke4fOK4FA— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) April 17, 2019
With so much focus on Lillard that made way for CJ McCollum.
McCollum was up for the challenge. He carried the scoring load for much of the game. At the end of the third, he had 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting.
3. Fouls a plenty
Just like the media and fans, the referees also know the bad blood between these two teams.
In a span of about 15 seconds in the first quarter three fouls were called. Whether it was a charge call, a moving screen, or a blocking call, the whistles were being blown.
At the 2:54 mark of the second quarter, Al-Farouq Aminu picked up his third foul. At halftime, the Blazers had committed 15 personal fouls. The Thunder had 14 fouls at the break. Aminu and Kanter both had three fouls by halftime.
Despite foul trouble, the Blazers turned it up on the defensive end in the third quarter. Portland clamped down on defense to start the second half and that was what turned the game around for the Blazers.
Kanter picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter, which gave an opportunity to Meyers Leonard. Leonard rose to the occasion, guarding Adams and even slowing doing guards when needed. Leonard finished the game with the best plus/minus of any bench player for the Blazers.
NEXT UP: The Trail Blazers and Thunder will tip-off Game 3 on Friday night at 6:30pm pacific time. You can catch the game on NBC Sports Northwest and on the MyTeams App. Our pregame coverage starts at 5:30pm.
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