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Nba Odds And Picks ? Blazers Seek Rare Feat At Oklahoma City

Not so for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite playing without Russell Westbrook, who remains sidelined after undergoing yet another knee surgery at the end of December, the Thunder have managed to stay near the top of the Western Conference standings thanks in part to the play of reserved-turn-starter Reggie Jackson. Though Jackson's performance has hardly been a surprise. In his third season out of Boston College, Jackson is actually only playing six more minutes a game as a starter than he did off the bench, as he played frequently alongside Westbrook in Oklahoma City's "small ball" lineup.

If there was a time when the Blazers resolve and mental toughness was going to be pushed to the limit, this was it. The fact that letting it slip away could have set a bad tone for the start of the grueling road trip only made the situation more urgent. It was a time for poise over panic, and the Blazers delivered. Their recent slippage notwithstanding, the truth is Portland has been coming up big against the elite teams all season. The win over the Spurs gives them a 6-1 record against the top five teams in the Western Conference.

Trail Blazers midseason report, starring LaMarcus Aldridge as MVP, Damian Lillard as Silent Assassin

Hes hit big shots, played tough defense and been a major presence in the locker room, where his leadership and work ethic continue to stand out. He entered the season enraged by his ESPN player ranking and annoyed by his rating in the video game "NBA 2K14," but has quietly silenced the haters with a borderline All-Star first-half. The Surprise: Joel Freeland View full size Joel Freeland has been the Blazers' only consistently capable big man jaket jepang on the Blazers' bench.Bruce Ely/The Oregonian Perhaps no Blazers player was a bigger disappointment last season than Freeland, who was ill-prepared for the speed, athleticism and physical grind of the NBA after arriving from the Spanish ACB League. But he spent the offseason rediscovering his confidence and reshaping his game into the mold of Nick Collison, Oklahoma Citys unheralded embrace-the-dirty-work veteran, and Freeland has emerged as the biggest surprise of the Blazers first half. He stunningly earned a rotation spot in training camp and has steadily improved each game, filling a vital role as the only consistently capable big man on the Blazers bench.

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If Portland can pull off the upset, theyll become the first team since the Mavericks in 2010 to win twice in Oklahoma City during the same season. Including a Dec. 4 win at Portland, the Blazers will be looking to make it three-for-three against the Thunder this season. The Thunder (31-10 U, 23-18 ATS) come in having won and covered their last three games, and theyve stayed UNDER the total in five of their last six games. One of those wins came Friday against the Warriors, where NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant poured in a career-high 54 points .

Trail Blazers Answering The Questions

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