Photo credit: @warriors
By Jerry Feitelberg
The Golden State Warriors again showed what they have hearts of lions as they clawed their way back from a poor first half to down the Portland Trailblazers 114-111 at Oracle Arena Thursday night.
The Warriors blew out the Blazers in Game 1. Many pundits said that the Warriors will win the series in five, while others thought the Warriors might sweep the Blazers. However, games are played on the court, not on paper. People have to remember that the Blazers are a professional basketball team that finished with the third best record in the Western Conference. They have an outstanding backcourt of CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard. The Blazers knew that they had to outplay the Warriors on both ends of the court. They put 65 points on the board in the first half and held the Warriors to 50. They made 11 threes in the first half. Steph Curry led the Warriors with 19, but no other Warrior starter was in double figures.
The first quarter was fairly even as Portland finished with a two-point advantage 31-29. The second quarter belonged to Portland as they outscored the Warriors 34-21 to finish with a 15-point lead 65-50. The Blazers had hoped to steal a game in Oakland and return home to Portland with the series tied at one apiece.
The Warriors had to regroup and figure out what they had to do to slow down Portland and come back to win the game. Portland made the first basket of the second half to increase the lead to 67-50. Steph Curry made a three, and the Blazers hit a two to lead 69-53. At this point, the Warriors went on a 13-0 run to cut the deficit to three 69-66. Portland refused to wilt, and they maintained the lead 75-74. Klay Thompson drained a three and the Warriors had their first lead since the first quarter when they led 8-6. The Warriors offense, paced by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, had help from an unexpected source, Jordan Bell. Bell, who had played sparingly in the playoffs, had his best game of the season. The Warriors were up by five until Portland regrouped and they were able to finish the third quarter tied 89-89. The Warriors won the quarter 39-24, but still had 12 minutes left to play.
In the fourth quarter, the Trail Blazers put the pressure on the Warriors. Portland’s offense came to life, and they had a 108-100 lead with five minutes left to play. Portland’s Seth Curry, Steph Curry’s younger brother, knocked down two threes in the quarter that propelled the Blazers into the lead.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts had his team concentrate on double-teaming Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. The Warriors had seen teams use this defense before.
Players such as Andre Iguodala and Kevon Looney made buckets as time was winding down. Looney made a bucket to bring the Warriors close 108-107. Steph Curry then made a three to put the Warriors up 110-108. Portland hit a three and led 111-110. Looney connected on a lob from Draymond Green, and Green made a bucket to put the Warriors ahead 114-111 with 12.3 seconds left. The Blazers knew they had to make a three to tie the game. They wanted the ball in either Lillard or McCollum’s hands. Lillard had the ball and was making his move when Iguodala slapped the ball out of his hands and stole the ball to secure the 114-111 win for Golden State.
Game Notes and Stats: Steph Curry led the Warriors with 37 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. He made four threes in 14 tries. Klay Thompson had 24. Draymond had a double-double with 16 points, 10 boards, seven assists and blocked five shots. Jordan Bell had 11, and Kevon Looney knocked down 14 and had seven boards. Jonas Jerebko did not score, but he did have seven rebounds while on the court. Andre Iguodala had four points, five rebounds and five assists.
Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 23. He had five rebounds, 10 assists, and he connected on five threes. CJ McCollum had 22 points and three threes. Seth Curry finished with 16 points and made four threes.
Up Next: The Warriors and Trail Blazers meet for Game 3 in Portland Saturday night. Game time will be at 6 pm.