by Jerry Feitelberg
Oakland- The Golden State Warriors had their hands full with the visiting Portland Trailblazers Wednesday night at the Oracle Arena. The Blazers were missing Damian Lillard who was unable to play due to an ankle injury. The Dubs beat the Blazers by 45 points the last time they were in town on December 17th. With Lillard out, people were predicting the Dubs would pulverize the Blazers again. Not so fast, the Blazers, behind C.J.McCollum’s 26 points in the first half led Portland to a two-point lead 71-69. The Dubs defense shut down McCollum in the second half, and they were able to come back and beat the Blazers 125-117.
The Warriors and Blazers were scorching hot in the first and second quarters. The Dubs led by six 40-34 at the end of the first quarter. The Warriors increased the lead to 13, but Portland owned the last 7 minutes of the second quarter as they finished the half with a flurry and outscored the Dubs by eight points 37-29 to give them the 2-point lead at the end of the half. Both Teams were on pace to score 140 points in the game. McCollum was hot as he scored 26 and hit several 3-point shots. He had help from Allen Crabbe who scored 14 and Maurice Harkless who added 8. Evan Turner, coming off the bench, scored 7 for the Blazers. Kevin Durant led the Dubs with 21 and Steph Curry pitched in with 16. Klay Thompson had 7, and Zaza Pachulia knocked down nine.The Dubs turned the ball over 8 times, and that helped the Blazers overcome the 13 point deficit and get back into the game.
The Blazers increased the lead to 74-70 early in the third quarter. That would be the last lead the Blazers would own. Kevin Durant scored two buckets in a row on passes from Draymond Green to tie the score. Zaza Pachulia made a deuce, and Steph Curry followed with a trey, and Golden State led 79-74. The Warrior defense held Portland to just 21 points in the third quarter, and the Dubs were able to end the quarter with a 7-point advantage 99-92. Draymond Green missed much of the third quarter as he was saddled with four personal fouls. Draymond picked up his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter. Draymond played his usual tough defense and did not foul out. The Warriors increased the lead to 13, but Portland refused to quit. They cut the lead to six 113-107. Draymond made a terrific pass to Shaun Livingston who put it in to increase the lead to 8. On the next play, Draymond blocked a shot, and Steph Curry made a three to up the lead to 11 119-107. Time ran out on the Blazers as they just couldn’t catch the Warriors. KD made a steal, then ran the length of the court for a layup and drew a foul. The Dubs sealed the win with that play.Final score 125-117 for the Warriors.
Game Notes- The Warriors won their ninth straight game at home. Steph Curry was the Curry of old as he made shots from everywhere and anywhere. He made 5 3-pointers and ended the game with 35. Kevin Durant scored 30. Klay Thompson added 14. Draymond Green had 9 points,11 assists, seven rebounds and one big blocked shot. Ian Clark, Shaun Livingstone, Andre Iguodala, and David West all made huge contributions to help the Dubs prevail. The Warriors shot 50.6% from the field and made 13 3-point shots. They were terrific on defense as they had 14 steals and 9 blocked shots. The Dubs continue to lead the NBA in those two categories. The Dubs committed 19 turnovers and that allowed the Blazers to score 21 points. The Dubs, however, scored 30 fast break points and knocked down 48 in the paint. The Dubs defense held Portland to just 46 points in the second half, and they held C.J.McCollum to nine. Portland had six players in double figures. All five starters and Evan Turner off the bench.
The Warriors season record improved to 31-5 and Portland drops to 15-22. The Warriors face the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night at Oracle Arena. The Grizzlies beat the Dubs in Memphis on December 10th, and the Warriors will be looking to avenge that loss on Friday. Game time is at 7:30 pm.
The Warriors also announced that the ground-breaking ceremony for the new Chase Center Arena in San Francisco will take place on January 17th. The Warriors expect the arena to be ready for the start of the 2019-2020 season.