Preview of the playoffs? Let’s hope not. Billy Donovan seems to be on a “Let’s see how many players we can rest” kick, and his current Magic Number is four: of the usual starting five, only Steven Adams actually played tonight. Some of this might have been justifiable if (1) the Trail Blazers had given any indication that they might do the same or (2) the Thunder actually had a point guard out there. (You know how they used to say that Russell Westbrook is not really a point guard? Randy Foye is not really a point guard like Michael J. Fox is not really a point guard.) Not that Cameron Payne, who is a point guard, had such a great night. (On the other hand, Payne served up six assists, Foye four, and Foye played five minutes more.) Then again, Enes Kanter starting next to Adams worked out to be a swell idea; in the absence of Kevin Durant, Kanter turned in a KD-like line and was instrumental in cutting a 23-point Portland lead down to ten. Still, the utter absence of perimeter defense — the Blazers knocked down ten treys in the first half — would prove to be the undoing of this version of the Thunder. And maybe it’s just me, but I’m not keen on simply handing a game to a team that needed a win just then to clinch a playoff slot. That said, no one pays me to make these fine judgment calls. For the record, the season series was split 2-2, each game won by the home team.
Oh, yeah, the score. Portland 120, Oklahoma City 115. And that Kanter line deserves more attention: 33 points, a career high, and a startling 20 rebounds. If that man could block shots he could be a demigod. Well, okay, a semidemigod. (Okay, he was credited with a block.) The Thunder next encounter the Kings, for the last game ever in the Sleep Train Arena, on what promises to be a raucous Saturday night, assuming the players actually play.