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Reply To: NBA • Monday Service Plays • 3/14/16

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Preview: Portland At Oklahoma City

When: 8:00 PM ET, Monday, March 14, 2016
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The Oklahoma City Thunder are holding on to third place in the Western Conference but are laboring as mid-March arrives. Oklahoma City has dropped eight of its last 12 contests as it enters Monday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, who reside in sixth place in the West.

The Thunder were beaten 93-85 by the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday and All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook admitted concern is now permeating the roster. “Should be,” Westbrook told reporters. “We’ve got to find a way to get wins – 4-8 is unacceptable for our team. We’ve just got to find a way to get it together.” Portland was having its own troubles with four losses in five games before trouncing the Orlando Magic 121-84 on Saturday. The Trail Blazers open a tough four-game road trip with visits to Oklahoma City and San Antonio and conclude it against Dallas on Sunday.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, CSN Northwest (Portland), FSN Oklahoma

ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (35-32): The beat down of Orlando supplanted a 32-point win over Golden State as Portland’s largest margin of victory this season. “The offense had a lot of rhythm to it,” coach Terry Stotts said afterward. “The ball was moving. Guys were making shots. It’s fun when you’re playing like that.” The Trail Blazers shot a season-best 56 percent from the field to go with a season-high 34 assists and received 60 points from their reserves.

ABOUT THE THUNDER (44-22): Oklahoma City has experienced a plethora of shaky fourth quarters during the 12-game slump and that was again the case against San Antonio, when a two-point lead turned into an eight-point loss. The defeat marked the NBA-high 12th time the Thunder have lost when entering the final quarter with a lead and Westbrook has been the main culprit while going just 10-of-39 from the field – missing all 11 3-pointers – in the fourth quarter and overtimes of the last eight games. “We have to start making better decisions, starting with myself,” said Westbrook, who committed nine turnovers in the contest. “Find ways to get guys the ball and make a better decision. I don’t want to put us in a position that creates problems from us turning the ball over.”

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Thunder have won eight of their past 11 home games against the Trail Blazers.

2. Portland standout G Damian Lillard is averaging 25.5 points and is 12-of-22 from 3-point range in two games against Oklahoma City this season.

3. Thunder SF Kevin Durant scored 28 points against the Spurs and has scored 20 or more points in each of his last 51 consecutive contests.

PREDICTION: Thunder 118, Trail Blazers 109