Never count an NBA team out no matter the lead.
Portland held a 34-21 lead at the end of the first quarter.
But after the Blazers had several deflections and steals in the first half, the second half was a different story. The Thunder found success at the rim in set plays and on the fastbreak.
Portland led by as many as 24 points in the third quarter, and just as it looked like the Trail Blazers starters could be on the bench resting down the stretch, Oklahoma City had other plans.
OKC charged back in the fourth quarter to take a five-point lead midway through the final period.
But once again the Blazers backcourt turned it up from behind the arc. Damian Lillard and Gary Trent Jr. drained timely threes to help the Blazers defeat the Thunder 115-104. Portland was also able to come up with timely stops.
Lillard hit four straight threes to end the game.
The Blazers now improve to 17-10 and extend their winning streak to five, the longest winning streak of the season.
Portland’s bench came to play early Tuesday.
Nassir Little and Anfernee Simons combined for 6-of-7 just minutes into the second quarter.
Little looked like his athletic self after showing off his stroke and his dunk prowess after dealing with a left knee sprain earlier in the month.
The Blazers were even more shorthanded than they have been on their current winning streak. Portland was without Harry Giles (left calf strain), Rodney Hood (left foot sprain), CJ McCollum (left midfoot fracture), Jusuf Nurkic (right wrist fracture) and Zach Collins (left ankle stress fracture).
For the Thunder, it was apparent as the Blazers jumped out to a huge lead in the first half, that OKC missed Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who was out with a left knee sprain.
At the break, the Blazers held a 64-50 lead.
But, Isaiah Roby's aggressive play at both ends helped OKC charge back. The Blazers led by roughly 20 points for most of the third quarter, but the Thunder, who are known for their energy and hard-nosed play this season, made Portland work for it down the stretch.
Oklahoma City started the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run.
With CJ McCollum out, Lillard and Gary Trent Jr. continued to keep pace to lead the charge in Portland’s recent success.
Lillard was a man on a mission down the stretch. He took over in the final minutes.
Also, hello, Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little! It was the Simons and Little show in the first half as the two combined for 25 points through the first two quarters.
The duo showed off their knockdown shooting abilities as Little continues to prove he has worked on his range.
As a team, the Blazers shot 47.1 percent from the field at the break to the Thunder’s 40.5 percent shooting, which improved late in the second quarter as OKC clawed its way back into the game.
Portland’s effort on the glass was also key in the Blazers taking a commanding lead early.
Derrick Jones Jr. was crashing the boards and getting buckets, especially after working the baseline. DJJ notched 11 points in the first half.
The Blazers’guards found themselves in foul trouble.
Portland’s five-time all-star Damian Lillard picked up his fourth foul in the final minutes of the second quarter, while Anferee Simons fouled out with 7:31 remaining in the game.
When the Thunder struggled to get in rhythm on the offensive end, Lu Dort found a way. He also had a hard foul on Lillard near the end of the third quarter where Lillard came up hobbling after knee-to-knee contact.
The Blazers, in the first night of a back-to-back, weren’t able to put the Thunder away to allow their starters to rest late in the game. Oklahoma City cut the lead to six with 9:29 remaining in the game.
Nassir Little was showing off his hops early:
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Blazers had notched 13 offensive rebounds to OKC’s eight offensive boards.
Next up: The Trail Blazers will play in their second leg of a back-to-back Wednesday as they wrap up their three-game road trip in New Orleans. The Blazers and Pelicans will tip-off at 6:00p.m. PST on NBCSNW.