NBA Basketball

Thunder struggling to shoot straight vs. Blazers

(Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Portland Trail Blazers would love to stay the course when they visit Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder Friday night in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series.

The Thunder, of course, would prefer a much different outcome.

Oklahoma City couldn't shoot worth a hoot from long distance in losing the first two games of the series in Portland, making only 10 of 61 shots (.164) from 3-point range. The Thunder were 5 for 33 in Friday's opener and 5 for 28 in Game 2 on Sunday.

Forward Paul George is 6 for 22 on his 3-point attempts and Russell Westbrook is 1 for 10 in the series. Jerami Grant and Dennis Schroder are both 0 for 8, Terrance Ferguson 2 for 7.

Coach Billy Donovan didn't quarrel with most of the shots taken from beyond the arc by his players, but understands they're going to have to be accurate in Game 3 or the series could end quickly.

"For the most part, we got off fairly decent looks (in Game 2), and we're going to have to take them," Donovan said. "(The Blazers) protect the rim as the ball gets driven downhill, and you can't just force the ball in there. You have to keep the defense somewhat honest by making some of those shots."

Westbrook, in particular, has struggled in the two games. The All-Star point guard had a near triple-double Tuesday with 14 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds, but he also had six turnovers and was 5 for 20 from the field, including 1 for 6 on 3-point attempts.

"He probably missed some shots at the rim that he could make, and there were times when we forced some misses," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "Our guys did a nice job of at least making some of his shots difficult."

Damian Lillard shadowed Westbrook for much of Game 2, recording two blocks and three steals in 37 minutes.

"He's really competitive," Stotts said. "As a group, we're all trying to play defense, but 'Dame' is really focused at both ends of the floor. He knows how important it is.

"Dame's defense has improved over time. He's a much better defensive player than people give him credit for. No question he was locked in tonight."

Lillard also scored 29 points in Game 2 and joined with CJ McCollum, who tallied a game-high 33, to lead Portland's offensive attack. McCollum sank 12 of 22 shots from the field, 3 of 7 from 3-point range and 6 of 6 at the line. Lillard was 4 for 8 from the 3-point line and 5 of 7 from the foul line.

"When you have two guys who can create their shots, create problems for the defense, it makes their teammates better," Stotts said. "Scoring is important in this game. When you have two guys like that, it's hard to replicate."

George said the Thunder shouldn't alter their game plan.

"We have to keep shooting," George said. "We're going to make shots. Keep shooting. We missed shots, so what? Keep shooting."

The Blazers are taking nothing for granted despite holding the 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

"I know how quickly things can change," Lillard said. "A series doesn't start until you win a game on the road. I also know how capable their team is.

"We have to maintain our focus, stay sharp and understand how well we played in the first two games is not going to be good enough in the third game, especially on their home floor. We've got to keep our heads down and keep working."

--Field Level Media

Updated April 19, 2019

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