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01/14/2013 1:16 AM EST
Durant has 33 and Thunder beat Blazers 87-83
OKLAHOMA CITY 87, PORTLAND 83

By ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Sports Writer

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The short-handed Oklahoma City Thunder
were rescued by LaMarcus Aldridge's miscalculation and Kendrick
Perkins' defense.



Aldridge airballed a 20-foot step-back jumper with 1.7 seconds
left would have tied it for the Trail Blazers, and the Thunder
went on to snap Portland's nine-game winning streak at the Rose
Garden with an 87-83 victory on Sunday night.



"It felt good when it left my hands," Portland's All-Star said.
"But it definitely wasn't good when I shot it."



Kevin Durant had 33 points for the Thunder, who had their lowest
output since scoring 84 in the season opener against San
Antonio. Russell Westbrook added 18 points and nine assists for
the Thunder in the absence of starters Serge Ibaka and Thabo
Sefolosha.



Aldridge had a season-high 33 points and 11 rebounds for the
Blazers, who trailed by 11 points but came within one point with
less than a minute left.



Westbrook's 3-pointer made it 84-74 with 3:35 left but the
Blazers closed to 84-80 after Nicolas Batum's putback with 1:57
to go. Batum added a 3-pointer with 21.9 seconds left to make it
84-83.



Perkins missed the first of two free throws and, after a
timeout, Aldridge missed his fadeaway jumper - under hard-nosed
pressure by Perkins. Westbrook then made two free throws for the
final margin.



"After Perk made his one free throw to give us a little cushion,
he came back down and played some great defense on LA
(Aldridge)," Durant said. "You can't ask for much more than that
from a big man. He was unbelievable on that play."



The Blazers had three options on the play, the second was for
Aldridge to hand off to Batum, who he thought didn't have a
shot. Instead, Aldridge took it.



Afterward, the Blazers' locker room was subdued. Wesley
Matthews, one of the options, sat with his head in his hands.



"Every time you lose it's frustrating," Matthews said.
"Especially when you should have won."



The Blazers had extended their Rose Garden winning streak to
nine after rallying for a 92-90 win over Miami on Thursday
night. But Portland fell 103-97 at Golden State on Friday to
stop a four-game overall winning streak.



Ibaka missed the game because of chest contusion he sustained in
the third quarter of the Thunder's 116-101 victory over the Los
Angeles Lakers on Friday night. It was the first time Ibaka
missed a game this season. The 6-foot-10 forward is averaging
14.3 points and 8.4 rebounds.



Ibaka was replaced by Nick Collison in Oklahoma City's starting
lineup.



Sefolosha, held back with a sore neck, had also started in all
of the Thunder's games this season, averaging 7.5 points and
four rebounds. He was replaced by DeAndre Liggins, who made his
first career start.



Liggins ended up playing 40 minutes, with 11 points and nine
rebounds.



"It was one of our best defensive games of the year, and it's
kind of surprising because we did not have two of our best
defensive players in the games," Thunder coach Scott Brooks
said. "But that's what team's do. Teams have to step up and
figure out ways to win, and our guys came off the bench and did
a great job."



The Blazers trailed by eight points early, but pulled to 18-17
on Aldridge's layup and free throw late in the first quarter.
Portland couldn't get any closer and Collison's reverse layup
midway through the second quarter gave the Thunder a 33-27 lead.



The Blazers responded with a 12-2 run, pulling ahead on a trio
of free throws and a 3-pointer from Batum that put Portland
ahead 39-25.



Durant was whistled for three fouls and went to the bench but
the Thunder kept up the pressure and the Blazers hung onto only
a 43-42 lead at the break.



The Thunder pulled back in front, 52-48, after Westbrook's
finger-roll layup and Collison's hook shot. Durant made a
3-pointer over Batum to make it 57-50.



Liggins hit a 3 that stretched Oklahoma City's lead to 63-52.



Aldridge and Batum had back-to-back dunks to pull Portland to
72-67 with 8:04 left.



NOTES: There were lots of fans wearing Seattle SuperSonics gear
at the Rose Garden, as there always are when Oklahoma City comes
to town. But NBA fans from Seattle may not be lamenting the loss
of a hometown team much longer. Reports emerged last week that
the owners of the Sacramento Kings may be in talks with a group
in Seattle that would relocate the team. The Sonics left for
Oklahoma City in 2008. A fan in the stands at the Rose Garden
held a sign that read "Bring Back the Rivalry!"

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