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Thunder top Blazers to clinch playoff berth

Mar 28, 2011 - 5:50 AM Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) - Russell Westbrook hit a game-sealing three-pointer late in the fourth quarter, and the Oklahoma City Thunder overcame a 40-point effort from Portland's Gerald Wallace to clinch a playoff spot with a 99-90 win over the Trail Blazers.

"It was a good win, I thought it was a physical battle," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "(Westbrook) hit some big shots and we got some important stops."

Westbrook finished with 28 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Thunder, who improved to 4-1 on their six-game homestand. Kevin Durant scored 21 points but made just 5-of-18 shots.

Oklahoma City leads the Northwest Division by 4 1/2 games over idle Denver.

LaMarcus Aldridge donated 20 points for Portland, which fell 6 1/2 games behind the Thunder in the division standings but remain sixth in the Western Conference.

"We need to be better at managing the clock down the stretch offensively," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "In the fourth quarter you have to make plays, it's just that easy."

The Trail Blazers, once trailing by 15 in the first half, tied the game at 82 with 6:18 left in the fourth quarter.

Oklahoma City, though, reeled off eight straight points on two Durant free throws and consecutive three-pointers by Westbrook to gain a little separation.

Portland refused to go away and scored the next six points to close within 90-88.

Nursing a four-point lead after a Kendrick Perkins layup, the Thunder recorded two of their 11 blocks within seconds of each other. It remained a two- possession game until Westbrook hit from long range to give Oklahoma City a 97-90 lead with 21.9 seconds left.

After opening the game on an 11-2 run, Oklahoma City fell behind before emerging with a 21-20 lead after the first 12 minutes.

Down 28-27, Nazr Mohammed made two free throws to ignite a 9-2 Thunder run. Durant drained a three-pointer for a 44-36 lead with 4:33 left in the second quarter and Westbrook knocked down a trey to put Oklahoma City up 55-40 in the closing moments of the second quarter.

Wallace sank 1-of-2 free throws before the break, and Portland went on a 13-2 surge at the beginning of the second half to trim its deficit to 57-54.

The Blazers pulled even at 69 on a pair of Nicolas Batum free throws, but a James Harden three-pointer put Oklahoma City up 78-72 at the end of the third quarter.

Game Notes

Serge Ibaka had 18 points and eight rebounds for the Thunder...Wallace, who came up two points shy of his career high, made 16-of-28 shots from the field.