Thunder video: Russell Westbrook stares down Blazers bench after scoring on Damian Lillard
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Video: Thunder’s Russell Westbrook stares down Blazers bench after scoring on Damian Lillard

Russell Westbrook, Thunder, Blazers

The Oklahoma City Thunder raced off to an early 15-9 start during the first quarter of their first-round playoff matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers. Two of those points came off a customary midrange pull-up jumper from guard Russell Westbrook over Damian Lillard who then promptly stared down the Blazers bench as he galloped backward after the timeout.

The Thunder continued to dominate for much of the first half before the Blazers went on an 11-0 run to take a 50-46 lead before halftime, a lead they will hold on to for the rest of the game en route to a 111-98 drubbing of the Oklahoma City franchise.

For his part, Westbrook was unable to back up the pre-emptive taunt, finishing the game with just 14 points on 5/21 shooting (including 2/7 from behind the arc) and with a staggering zero field goals in the second half. His tag team partner in harassing Lillard with psychological tactics, Dennis Schroder, was slightly better with 17 points off the bench.

But it’s their inability to contain their persistent tormentor that has been the story for the Thunder as Lillard has responded in kind every time, particularly in the money quarters with 15 points in the third this time around before shooting guard C.J. McCollum exploded with a team-high 27 points to put it away.

Game 5 moves back to Portland where the hosts have a chance to close the series while Westbrook and company try to avert their premature fishing plans.