OKC Thunder Locks Up Playoff Spot

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:18 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Mar 27, 2011 8:48 PM CDT

Grant Belcher
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Thunder are playoff bound for a second-straight year.

OKC knocked off division rival Portland 99-90 in front of its home crowd to secure a spot in the Western Conference playoffs.

With 10 games remaining, the Thunder are sitting in the No. 4 spot in the West, with Denver securely entrenched in the fifth spot.

If the current standings hold true, Oklahoma City would match up with the Nuggets in the first round and would have home court advantage.

Last season, OKC clinched a playoff spot with just seven games remaining but slipped down to the No. 8 seed before the regular season ended.

Oklahoma City managed several big runs throughout the game, but Portland was always there to respond.

On a 3-pointer from Russell Westbrook with eight seconds left in the first half, OKC opened up its largest lead of the game at 55-40.

But Portland opened the second half on an 8-0 run and slowly but surely crawled back into the game.

Even though the Trail Blazers rallied back to tie the game multiple times, Oklahoma City never relinquished its lead, despite Gerald Wallace’s best efforts.

Wallace was nearly unstoppable, racking up a season-high 40 points and getting to the rim with ease at times.

But OKC countered with a more balanced scoring attack, including 28 points from Westbrook to go with seven assists and seven boards.

Kevin Durant added 21 and Serge Ibaka had 18 to go with eight boards.

Oklahoma City continues its impressive stretch of games with the new-look roster, winning its third straight and nine of the past 10.

OKC has held its opponents to less than 100 points in eight of those 10 games.

With a playoff spot secured, the Thunder will host Golden State to finish out a six-game home stand.

Tipoff against the Warriors is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday.