A quick recap of what transpired Sunday night before we share the punch line.

Fourth-string guard DeAndre Liggins played more minutes against the Portland Trail Blazers than three-time scoring Kevin Durant.

* For the first time all season, the Thunder did not have its usual starting lineup. Serge Ibaka (chest contusion) and Thabo Sefolosha (neck strain) were sidelined with injuries. Liggins and Nick Collison were the replacement starters.

* Russell Westbrook shot 5 for 21 from the field, yet sealed the game with his clutch shooting.

* Kevin Martin, one of the league's premier 3-point shooters all season, went 0 for 5 from beyond the arc.

* Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge scored 33 points and shot 15 for 26 from the field, and everyone in the OKC locker room commended Kendrick Perkins for his defense on the man.

Mix it all together and what do you get? Would you believe an 87-83 victory at one of NBA's toughest road venues?

Many on the OKC roster considered this triumph at the Rose Garden the most rewarding of the season, given the circumstances.

A familiar face threw the most daggers at the Blazers as Durant overcame first-half foul trouble to finish with 33 points, shooting 12 for 21 from the field.

Liggins delivered some body blows himself and nearly finished with a double-double while making his first NBA start in 31 career appearances.

Liggins had 11 points and went 3 for 3 from 3-point range. He also added nine rebounds, two assists and a steal. Collison added eight points on 4-of-5 shooting.

Asked what his goal was as a starter, Liggins calmly explained: "It's pretty simple — defend as hard as I could and find some open shots. My job is to come in and play as hard as I could. The thing about me is I know my role. I know what I have to do to help this team win."

Liggins played 23 seconds longer than Durant. "He deserved it," Durant said.

"He wasn't coming out," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Liggins. "We needed his energy tonight. He showed that in training camp … that he can make an impact."