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March 26, 2013

Race on for division title as OKC beats Trail Blazers

(Continued)

Oklahoma City —

In the fourth quarter, Portland twice pulled within five points, the last time at 88-83 on Aldridge’s jumper with 6:01 left. The Trail Blazers didn’t score again and finished the game shooting 40.5 percent after shooting 51.4 percent in the first half.

“I thought it was a good effort against arguably the best team in the West,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “It was our fifth game in seven nights and we just didn’t have it at the end. They’re a talented team that creates a lot of problems at both ends of the floor. I don’t think that the final score is indicative of how the game went.”

Durant answered with a 3-pointer and after four straight futile possessions by the Trail Blazers, Ibaka hit a 14-foot jumper to give Oklahoma City its biggest lead at 95-83 with 3:19 left. Oklahoma City went on to score 15 straight points to end the game.

Ibaka, saddled by foul trouble, didn’t take a shot in the first half but consistently knocked down mid-range shots after halftime.

“It shows that he’s mature,” Westbrook said of Ibaka. “He’s gotten better. It’s tough to play with fouls in the first half. He came back in the second half and did a great job.”

Aldridge recorded his 35th double-double of the season with 10 points and 12 rebounds, but fell below his 27.5-point scoring average in Portland’s two previous games against Oklahoma City this season. He finished 3-of-14 from the field.

After Ibaka got into foul trouble, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison mostly shared defensive duties against Aldridge before Ibaka was able to return in the second half.

“It was a combination of great defense and being lucky because of the shots he missed,” Durant said. “Our bigs made him think a few times on those shots. Perk did a great job. Serge, Nick and (Hasheem Thabeet) did a great job on him.”

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