Thunder, Trail Blazers remain works in progress

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Heading into Sunday night's visit to the Portland Trail Blazers, the Oklahoma City Thunder are very much a work in progress.

That fact was magnified in Oklahoma City's disturbing 101-94 home loss to the Boston Celtics Friday.

After taking an 18-point lead into halftime, the Thunder were outscored 64-39 in the second half.

"Who we can we be was out in front of us the first 24 minutes," Thunder coach Billy Donavan said. "And what we can be on the other end of it the second 24 minutes."

The Thunder (4-4) were dominant at both ends of the court in the first half. In the second half, it was quite the opposite as Oklahoma City shot 33.3 percent.

"That's who we are that first 24 minutes," said forward Carmelo Anthony, who shot 3 for 17 from the field, including 1 for 12 in the second half. "In the second half, there were just too many mental lapses. That's not who we are. We know what type of team we can be. That first half, we showed that."

Anthony and forward Paul George, Oklahoma City's two big-name offseason acquisitions, are still trying to get comfortable playing alongside point guard Russell Westbrook, last season's NBA Most Valuable Player Award recipient.

"It's good to struggle now," George said. "This is our first year tonight. This is a long run, and we'll be fine."

Westbrook averaged 32.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and 10.0 assists in his MVP campaign, becoming the second player ever to average a triple-double for a season (joining Oscar Robertson, 1961-62).

Westbrook is scoring at a much lower pace (19.5) and his rebound average is down (9.4) this season. But his assists average is up (11.8 from 10.8), as are his percentages from the field (.453 from .425) and the 3-point line (.375 from .343).

"When I look at the Thunder, I still see Russell Westbrook," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "He has done a good job incorporating Paul and Carmelo into their offense but the team is still very much driven by Russell."

The Trail Blazers are also working to find a groove, their 113-110 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night notwithstanding.

Center Jusuf Nurkic, acquired at last year's midseason trade deadline, struggled through the first seven games but has caught some rhythm, averaging 23.5 points and 8.0 rebounds the last two games.

"I forgot how much fun I can have out there when I just my game," the 7-foot Nurkic said.

The win over the Lakers was the first game this season in which the Blazers' "Big Three" of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Nurkic all produced offensively at the same time.

Lillard scored 32 points and sank a game-winning 3-point shot with seven-10th of a second remaining. Nurkic had 28 points and McCollum added 22, 13 in the first quarter.

Noah Vonleh is expected to get his second straight start in place of power forward Al-Farouq Aminu, out with a sprained ankle. Vonleh was scoreless with two rebounds and two blocked shots in 15 minutes against the Lakers.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting