The Portland Trailblazers became the first team to take a (2-0) lead in the NBA playoffs. Their 114-94 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder highlighted a dominant second half performance on Tuesday night.
Last year, C.J. McCollum was trying to win a playoff game. Now, he has helped lead the Trailblazers to a commanding series lead as the series heads back to Oklahoma City. McCollum dropped a scintillating 33 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. He shot 12 of 22 in a much more efficient Game 2. McCollum also made all six of his free throws.
The deciding run looks like it came in the third quarter when the Blazers won 37-21. They turned a tie-game into a 16-point lead. However, the Trailblazers really took control at the end of the first half.
With five minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Thunder led, 46-36. Russell Westbrook exploded to the hoop with a lefty layup. Moments later, a Damian Lillard spurt turned the tide of the entire game. Lillard slithered to the hoop for an easy layup. On the next possession, Lillard connected on a deep 3-pointer via the left wing. He was also fouled. As a result, the Trailblazers cut the lead from 10 to 4 in 34 seconds. Although the Thunder made a couple of plays, McCollum’s 3-pointer at the buzzer tied the game at 54. The 18-8 run was a precursor to what happened in the second half.
The Trailblazers took their will. They took their heart and the most importantly, Seth Curry dialed it up from 3-point range in the final moments of the third quarter. With a six point lead late in the third quarter, the Trailblazers put up another game-changing run. Curry made consecutive 3-pointers to push the lead to 12. Then Lillard got fouled on a three. He made all three foul shots. He followed that up by making a 3-point shot at the buzzer. Once again, the Thunder were deflated by the long ball. They were down 91-75 at the end of the third and that was the game.
Lillard finished with 29 points and 6 assists. Maurice Harkless scored 14 points and grabbed 9 rebounds, while playing solid defense. Curry scored 9 points on 3 of 4 shooting from 3-point range. Meanwhile, Al-Farouq Aminu and Enes Kanter accounted for 12 points and 9 rebounds. They both had some early foul trouble. However, everybody did their job to help the Blazers go up (2-0) in the series.
Paul George led the Thunder with 27 points and 8 rebounds. Steven Adams had 16 points and 9 rebounds. Russell Westbrook was the only other player in double figures with 14 points, 11 assists and 9 rebounds. However, Westbrook was held to 5 of 20 shooting. He also coughed up six turnovers in the loss.
Game 3 is set for Friday April 19. It’s safe to say, Friday’s contest will be the biggest game of the year for the Thunder. If the Trailblazers can snatch the first road game, they’ll be able to complete the sweep. If they lose, then all three games would have been won by the home team.