Gilgeous-Alexander scores 27 as Thunder top Portland again

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 27 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Portland Trail Blazers for the second time in three days, 101-98 on Wednesday night.

Gilgeous-Alexander had a good week against Portland — he hit a winning basket as time expired against the Trail Blazers on Monday, also in Oklahoma City, to highlight a 35-point performance.

It was the third straight win for Oklahoma City. The streak follows a five-game losing skid.

“I thought the guys really did a nice job of carrying over the lessons from last game,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “We knew they (Trail Blazers) were going to be better, and I thought they were. And I thought we were better, too.”

Damian Lillard, who entered the game averaging 28.3 points, finished with 16 points on 6-for-19 shooting for the Trail Blazers. Anfernee Simons, who started the night averaging 23.2 points, scored 12 on 4-for-11 shooting.

It was the third time this season the Thunder allowed fewer than 100 points.

“It’s a five-man defense,” Daigneault said. “We were a five-man defense tonight, and I was very impressed with the execution.”

Jerami Grant led Portland with 17 points.

Lillard missed his first six shots and didn’t score until halfway through the second quarter. Still, the Trail Blazers led 54-49 at halftime despite Gilgeous-Alexander’s 18 points.

The Thunder led 99-98 in the closing seconds. Oklahoma City’s Josh Giddey rebounded his miss, but Lillard tied him up and forced a jump ball that Portland won.

Lillard missed a difficult 18-foot fadeaway with Lu Dort guarding him, and the Thunder rebounded with 0.9 seconds remaining.

“It was a tough shot,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said. “He probably lost his balance on it and just had to heave something that was too late. He was committed to it at that point.”

Dort continues to add to his reputation as a top perimeter defender.

“The guy’s just a monster defensively,” Daigneault said. “Lillard’s a monster offensively. He’s such a good player. It’s just another vintage game for him (Dort) and we start to get used to them. He’s probably had about five of these this year where he’s played against a top-notch opponent and just does his thing.”

Dort appreciated the help he got defending Lillard throughout the night.

“It’s not easy,” Dort said. “He’s a great player. I felt like it was another challenge, honestly. We won the last game down to the wire, and I kind of knew he would come out a little more aggressive. I felt like it wasn’t just me, it was my teammates. I just felt like we did a good job of being there.”

Gilgeous-Alexander made two free throws with 0.3 seconds left, and Portland couldn’t get a shot off on its final possession.

QUOTABLE

Billups on Portland attempting nine free throws the entire game: “That really doesn’t happen with us. Nine free throws for the whole game. We attack all night. I guess we didn’t get fouled tonight.”

TIP-INS

Trail Blazers: C Jusuf Nurkic returned after missing Monday’s game with right calf soreness. … Lillard was issued a technical in the third quarter. He also was called for one on Monday against the Thunder. … F Justice Winslow left the game with a left ankle sprain in the third quarter and did not return.

Thunder: Giddey returned after missing two games due to illness. … F/C Jeremiah Robinson-Earl sat out with a sprained right ankle. … Oklahoma City improved to 9-7 at home this season. … Jalen Williams scored 15 points and Lu Dort added 14 for the Thunder.

UP NEXT

Trail Blazers: Visit the Denver Nuggets on Friday.

Thunder: Host the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.

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Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: twitter.com/CliffBruntAP

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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