Russell Westbrook turns it around, scores 33 in Thunder victory

Russell Westbrook called his play in Game 2 “unacceptable.”

It was more than acceptable in Game 3. He had 33 points and 11 assists and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the visiting Portland Trail Blazers 120-108 on Friday night to cut their series deficit to 2-1.

Paul George added 22 points, Jerami Grant had 18 and Dennis Schroder 17 for the Thunder. They will host Game 4 on Sunday night.

Damian Lillard scored 32 points, but he had just three in the fourth quarter after scoring 25 in the third. C.J. McCollum had 21 and Enes Kanter added 19.

Oklahoma City closed the second quarter on a 10-1 run to take a 49-39 lead. Lillard was held to four points on 2-for-6 shooting and the Trail Blazers shot 37.5% in the half.

George hit a 3-pointer, was fouled and made the free throw in the opening minutes of the second half to push Oklahoma City’s lead to 55-43. Westbrook backed down Lillard, hit a bank shot and was fouled. Westbrook brought out his “rock the baby” celebration, then made the free throw to put Oklahoma City up by 15.

Lillard scored 23 points the rest of the quarter to help cut Oklahoma City’s lead to 86-82 at the end of the period. McCollum hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 89 early in the fourth.

Oklahoma City regained control, then kept it. Westbrook’s jumper with just over two minutes remaining put the Thunder up 10.

Raptors 98, Magic 23: Toronto thinks Pascal Siakam should be selected the NBA’s Most Improved Player. He was their MVP on Friday night.

And the East’s No. 2 seed has the home-court edge back again.

Siakam had 30 points and 11 rebounds, hitting a floater with 1:33 left to help snuff out an Orlando rally and the Raptors held off the Magic 98-93 to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference first-round series.

“He’s the most improved basketball player in the NBA this year and he’s only going to get better,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said.

Siakam was 13-for-20 from the floor and the Raptors held Orlando to 36% shooting.

“It’s just taking what a defense gives us and going with it,” Siakam said.

Kawhi Leonard — battling illness this week — had 16 points and 10 rebounds. Danny Green had 13 points and Lowry finished with 12 points and 10 assists, plus ran down a huge offensive rebound with about 15 seconds left to extend a critical possession and spoil Orlando’s first home playoff game since 2012.

“It was really what I thought it was going to be tonight,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “I really thought this was going to be a tough atmosphere to play in.”

Celtics 104, Pacers 96: The Boston Celtics keep following the same game plan. Three games into their first-round playoff series, it’s still working.

Another dominant second-half defensive performance helped the visiting Celtics retake control of the game and another late scoring run helped them pull away from Indiana to seize a 3-0 series lead.

“We’ve come a long way,” All-Star guard Kyrie Irving said. “We’re all making sure we’re giving each other confidence and doing the little things to ensure we win. When you have that type of camaraderie, executing is a lot easier. Now that the stakes are higher, we’re settling into who we want to be.”

While the names and numbers seem to change on a daily basis, the results have remained strikingly consistent.

The Celtics turned Game 1 by limiting Indiana to eight third-quarter points and won by 10. In Game 2, the Celtics erased a double-digit deficit by allowing just 12 fourth-quarter points as they won by eight. This time, it was a 12-point third quarter that swung the momentum, leading Boston to its sixth straight win over Indiana — all since January.

If they can do it one more time Sunday, last year’s Eastern Conference runner-ups will be headed to the conference semifinals.

“In Game 4, we expect (Indiana) to take it to another level,” Jaylen Brown said after scoring 23 points. “We’ve got to come out and not take our foot off the gas. We’ve got to come out and play great basketball and try to close this thing out.”

It seems Boston has an answer for every adjustment the Pacers make.

With the league’s best defense focused on holding Irving in check, Brown went 8-for-9 from the field and grabbed seven rebounds. Jayson Tatum added 18 points and seven rebounds, and Irving was still productive with 19 points, 10 assists and five rebounds.

“In the third quarter, we lost our patience,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “We took quick shots, bailed them out, and lost our rhythm.”

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Russell-Westbrook-turns-it-around-scores-33-in-13782202.php.

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