by Jerry Feitelberg
The Golden State Warriors, without their All-Star guard Steph Curry, faced-off against the Trailblazers in Portland Sunday night. Steph, who was sidelined with the stomach flu, was not able to play and Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr had to juggle the starting lineup. He inserted Shaun Livingston at point guard, and the rest of the starters remained the same. The result was the same as the Dubs won 113-111.
The Blazers took an early 8-4 lead in the first quarter. The Dubs went on a 16-2 run to lead 20-10. Kevin Durant was the man in the quarter as he led the team with 11 points. The Dubs led 33-24 after the first 12 minutes of play. The Warriors’ defense was terrific in the period as they held the Blazers to just 24 points. The Warriors’ first bucket in the quarter was a play that should make anyone’s highlight reel. Shain Livingston made a great play by stealing the ball. He ran the court and then made a bounce pass to Andre Iguodala coming down the court on the right side.
Andre swooped in a made the layup and was fouled in the process. He completed the three-point play when he made the free throw. The Warriors led 37-24. They increased the lead to 51-30 about halfway through the quarter. The Warriors offense went ice cold at that point in the game. They continued to play great defense, but they could not buy a bucket. The Blazers took advantage and finished the quarter on a 20-2 to trail by 3 at the end of the half 53-50. KD led the Dubs with 15, Klay Thompson and Zaza Pachulia each had 10. The Blazers’ scoring leader was C.J. McCollum with 14. Big Mason Plumlee had nine.
The third quarter was very close. The Blazers tied the score twice but could never take the lead with the score at 68 apiece, the Dubs finished the period on a 16-4 run to take a 10-point lead heading into the final 12 minutes of play. Draymond Green missed most of the quarter as he was saddled with 4 fouls, but the Dubs still were terrific on defense as they outscored the Blazers 33-26. In the fourth quarter, the Warriors could not shake the Blazers. Portland kept coming back, and they tied the game at 93. At this point, Andre Iguodala hit a three-point shot that was immense at the time. The Dubs kept answering every Portland challenge until they took a 7-point lead 106-99 with just 37.5 seconds left to play.
The Blazers decided to foul the Dubs every time they touched the ball in the hopes that they could either tie the game or win it at the buzzer. The feel was similar to the situation in Miami when the Dubs lost at the buzzer. The strategy worked as the Blazers closed to trail by 2 111-109. Klay made 2 free throws to give the Dubs the lead 113-109. They let the Blazers make an easy layup with just 5.6 seconds left on the clock.The Warriors almost made a fatal mistake when they were taking out the ball. Kevin Durant was charged with a foul when he pushed off trying to get free. The ball went to Portland, and the Warriors escaped when Evan Turner, a 30% three-point shooter, missed from the corner. The Dubs hold on to win 113-111.
Game Notes and Stats- The Warriors’ big man, Kevin Durant was the player of the game. He had a double-double with 33 points, 10 rebounds and six assists Klay Thompson, who was couldn’t make a shot in the second quarter, finished with 27. Zaza Pachulia had a big night with 14. JaVale McGee added 7. Draymond Green scored 5points, 5 assists, and 6 rebounds. The third star of the night went to Andre Iguodala, Andre knocked down 12 points to go along with 5 assists and three boards. Andre made 4 3-point shots in the game.
Scoring leaders for Portland were McCollum with 25. Oakland native Damian Lillard had 19, Evan Turner,18, Mason Plumlee 15, and Maurice Harkless, off the bench, added 10. On defense, Warriors had 13 steals and 6 blocked shots. Portland outdid them in three categories. Portland scored 22 points off turnovers while the Dubs could manage just 18. The Blazers held a 60-32 advantage in points scored in the paint and they had a one-point advantage 18-17 on fast breaks.
The Warriors improve to 41-7 while Portland falls to 21-28. The Warriors snapped Portland’s modest three-game winning streak.
After the game, Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr had this to say about the win:”we survived.” “Our guys didn’t have a ton of energy” as the played another back-to-back game.” “We gutted it out.”
The Warriors do not play until Wednesday. They play the Charlotte Hornets at Oracle Arena. Game time is at 7:30. The Warriors travel to LA to face the Clippers Thursday night to start a six-game road trip.