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- Kevin Durant has been good against everybody this season, and he’s been magnificent in the three games Oklahoma City has played against Portland. Durant, averaging an NBA-high 31.2 points, has averaged 38.7 points against the Blazers, going for 33, 37 and 46.
- Portland will use Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews to defend the leader in the race for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player trophy. “It’s difficult to take the ball out of his hands, but we want to be aggressive,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “The main thing is to make him work for his points. Nic and Wes primarily are going to have to do a great individual job and we have to do a great job as a team.”
- Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge has been outstanding against OKC, too, averaging 30.7 points and 14.3 rebounds in the three contests. “We’ve done a good job against him, too,” Thunder coach Scotty Brooks said. “He seems to love making tough shots against us. Most of his attempts aren’t easy, but he makes them look that way.
- Portland guard Mo Williams (family issues) will miss his third straight game tonight. Stotts said he is expected to arrive back in Portland Tuesday night and accompany the team on its trip to Los Angeles to face the Clippers Wednesday night.
- The season series is on the line tonight, with Portland holding a 2-1 advantage entering the final game between the teams. “It’s always good to have it in your pocket,” Stotts said.
- OKC (41-12) enters the night with a four-game lead over Portland (36-15) atop the Northwest Division standings. “We want to win our division, no question,” Brooks said. “We take pride in it. But we have that mentality in all games. We understand we have to play very well to beat (the Blazers) up here. Our guys always embrace challenges, and tonight will be a good one.”
– Kerry Eggers