Trail Blazers Thunder Basketball

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) goes up for a dunk in front of Portland Trail Blazers forward Meyers Leonard, left, in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

A year ago, Portland and Oklahoma City met four times during the NBA’s regular season and the Trail Blazers won all four. 

This season, the Thunder owned the series, winning all four meetings.

The two teams’ first-round best-of-seven playoff series begins at 2:30 p.m. Sunday inside Moda Center in Portland.

Here’s a look a the four regular-season games between the Thunder and Blazers.

First meeting

Jan. 4, at Portland

Thunder 111, Blazers 109

What happened: Portland led a majority of the contest, more than 26 minutes, and took a 62-57 edge into the half. Oklahoma City turned that round, going on a 25-13 run to close the third quarter.

The Blazers did not lead at all in the final frame, but had two shots to tie it in the final 30 seconds, missing attempts from Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

OKC got 37 points from Paul George, who made 5 of 9 3-point attempts, and 31 from Russell Westbrook, who made 13 of 28 shots. 

Portland got 23 points from Lillard and 22 from Jusuf Turkic, who would go on to break his leg and lose the rest of his season to an injury suffered in Game 73 against Brooklyn.


Second meeting

Jan. 22, at OKC

Thunder 123, Blazers 114

What happened: This was one of two victories over Portland that were a part of Oklahoma City’s run of 11 of 12 wins over the latter half of January and the first half of February.

It was easier than the first meeting, with Portland leading for less than 30 seconds and never within a basket in the fourth quarter.

A big game for George, he finished with 36 points on 10 of 21 shooting, while grabbing eight rebounds and nabbing five steals. Westbrook turned in a triple-double: 29 points, 10 rebounds, 14 assists.

Lillard led Portland with 34 points, McCollum added 31 on 7 of 12 3-point shooting and Nurkic finished with 22.

Terrence Ferguson and Steven Adams both chipped in 14 for the Thunder.


Third meeting

Feb. 11, at OKC

Thunder 120, Blazers 111

What happened: Similar to the one before, Portland led for a total of 18 seconds and, dissimilar to the previous one, was hardly in the game in the fourth quarter, entering trailing by five points and never getting any closer. 

Oklahoma City led by double digits the final 7:39 until Portland scored the game’s final bucket.

Gillard had 31 for Portland. Jake Layman, off the bench, was next with 17. Turkic and Al-Farouq Aminu both added 13.

George, meanwhile, was dominant, making 15 of 26 shots and 8 of 13 3-point attempts on the way to 47 points. 

Westbrook did what he did often during the stretch — not shoot well, yet complete a triple-double — finishing with 21 points on 5 of 19 accuracy, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.

It was the win that closed OKC’s 11 of 12 string.


Fourth meeting

March 7, at Portland

Thunder 129, Blazers 111 (OT)

What happened: Having lost five of its previous six games, this didn’t look like one Oklahoma City was bound to win. 

The Thunder gave away a seven-point edge in the fourth quarter. Still, OKC should have won after Skal Labissiere missed two free throws with 4 seconds remaining, yet an offensive rebound gave Aminu the chance to tie it with two free throws with 2 seconds remaining and he did.

A 3-pointer from Westbrook put OKC on top for good with 3:47 left int he extra frame.

Portland lost despite 51 points from Lillard.

The Thunder got 37 from Westbrook and 32 from George, who countered 7 of 23 shooting with 17 of 20 foul shooting.

Horning is senior sports columnist for The Norman Transcript, a CNHI News Service publication.