It was not the Portland Trail Blazers' night.
Playing in the second night of a back-to-back with three starters out of the lineup, the Blazers got off to a slow start against the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday.
Portland’s depth was tested more than ever.
Trail Blazers power forward Robert Covington missed his first game of the season after suffering a concussion Sunday night against the Knicks. With the injury, Portland switched up its starting lineup -- inserting Carmelo Anthony at the four and Gary Trent Jr. at the two instead of Rodney Hood, who had been filling in for CJ McCollum.
Portland was a step behind on defense for a majority of the game. The Thunder took advantage at the rim and from behind the arc. Portland started off in a 10-point hole at the end of the first quarter.
But even when the Blazers made a run, the Thunder were able to answer and get timely stops as OKC defeated Portland 125-122.
The Thunder were dialed in on Damian Lillard all night. But even with his shots not falling, he found his teammates. Both Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons stepped up in the second half to knock down timely buckets.
Midway through the first quarter, OKC held a 22-11 lead with the Thunder shooting over fifty-five percent for the first 12 minutes.
Thanks to a Trent Jr. three-pointer to beat the buzzer, the Blazers cut the lead to nine at halftime.
OKC got a big boost offensively in the second half from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Mike Muscala.
When the Trail Blazers were struggling to find scoring, they went to Carmelo Anthony. Despite Melo leaving his shots short early on, he got it going in the second quarter. It was isolation Melo at its finest. He took advantage of mismatches on the block any chance he could get. Anthony notched 13 points in the first half.
Trent Jr. and Simons combined for 48 points. Their playmaking and scoring was key in keeping the Blazers within striking distance down the stretch.
Portland looked sluggish on both ends from the jump. The Blazers allowed the Thunder to see the ball go through the hoop early and once the confidence built for the young Oklahoma City squad, Portland struggled to dig itself out of any hole.
The Blazers gave up the lane and wide-open threes.
Heading into Monday’s game, the Thunder were 30thin the league in three-point shooting. Against the Blazers, OKC shot 45.0 percent from long distance.
Even though Portland’s head coach Terry Stotts said Rodney Hood would be limited Monday, Hood didn’t see the floor Monday. He is still on a minutes restriction after coming back from his torn Achilles injury this season, especially on a second leg of a back-to-back.
The Blazers also announced in the final period that forward Derrick Jones Jr. had suffered a left quad contusion. However, after suffering the injury, he returned to the game, but then was quickly subbed out.
GTJ was in the zone.
OKC was sharing the wealth all night. The Thunder finished with 25 assists to the Trail Blazers’ 17.
Next up: The Trail Blazers will hit the road for a six-game road trip starting Thursday night in Houston. The Blazers and Rockets tip-off at 7:00p.m. PST on TNT Thursday.