Portland vs. Oklahoma City: What Do the Blazers Take Away from Their First Loss?

Alex TamCorrespondent IIINovember 3, 2012

Nov 2, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Portland Trail Blazers cente J.J. Hickson (21) handles the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka (9) during the first half at Chesapeake Energy Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE

The Portland Trail Blazers suffered their first defeat in a 106-92 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road Friday night.

The Blazers dropped to 1-1 while the Thunder improved to 1-1 on the season.

Portland hung close late in the fourth quarter, but the team's lack of experience and firepower in defeat may be a prelude to what's to come this season.

Here are the awards, grades and analysis of the Blazers' loss:


Player of the Game

LaMarcus Aldridge: 22 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, 8-22 FG

After grabbing just three rebounds in Wednesday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers, LaMarcus Aldridge made rebounding an emphasis this time out.

He grabbed 15 rebounds, including 13 on the defensive end. Only two of his made field goals came in the paint, however, according to ESPN's shot chart. There's no reason Aldridge shouldn't be averaging a double-double—this game was a step in the right direction.


Key Moment of the Game

After Damian Lillard brought the Blazers to within 84-79 midway through the fourth quarter on a jumper, OKC's Kevin Martin came through in a big way.

Martin's three-pointer with 6:18 to go gave the Thunder a commanding 89-79 lead. The Blazers got no closer than eight the rest of the way.

For one game, Martin showed he was a capable replacement for bench scoring in place of James Harden.

Another key factor: Nicolas Batum's poor performance.

After a sizzling 26-point performance against the Lakers, Batum finished with just three points off 1-for-11 shooting. His play will be a huge storyline to follow this season for Portland.

If Batum plays well, the Blazers should have a chance to win most games. If he struggles, so will Portland.


Lillard Watch

Lillard did his best to hold his own against premier point guard Russell Westbrook.

Lillard had 21 points, seven assists and three rebounds in another solid showing for the rookie.

With back-to-back 20-point performances against the likes of Steve Nash and Westbrook, he is continuing to cement himself as one of the top up-and-coming players in the league.


Tweet of the Night

Scout texting about Damian Lillard: "Absolutely nothing rattles him. You just don't see that in a rookie."

— Chris Mannix, Sports Illustrated (@ChrisMannixSI) November 2, 2012


What They Said

“This is the worst shooting night in my life...and when I don’t have my shot, I stop playing. It’s my biggest weakness,’’ Batum said. (via Jason Quick of The Oregonian)

“I play so bad,” Batum said. “If I play a normal game, we win this game. Easy.” (via Joe Freeman of The Oregonian)

"Not to take anything away from Harden, but he was overkill on a star-studded roster that already featured two players that worked best with the ball in their hands. Harden never was going to get the touches he required to truly dominate like he's already showing he's capable of in Houston." (via Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman)


Final Grade


The Blazers hung close, but the game revealed several weaknesses. If each starter is not going to score in double digits, the team will struggle to score enough points to win games.

Portland's bench was ineffective for the most part again, besides Luke Babbitt's eight points. Sasha Pavlovic scored zero points in 23 minutes, which is not the kind of production that will win games, especially on the road against the defending Western Conference Champions.


Your thoughts on the game?