Extra Dribbles: Warriors complete sweep of Trail Blazers to advance to West semis; await Jazz/Clippers winner

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

PORTLAND — All five starters scored in double figures led by Stephen Curry’s game-high 37 points as the Golden State Warriors completed a four-game sweep to advance to the conference semifinals by dismantling the Trail Blazers with a 128-103 victory Monday night.

The Warriors improve to 12-1 in the first round over the past three postseasons, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

This is the third four-game sweep in franchise history for Golden State. The Warriors swept the Washington Bullets in the 1975 NBA Finals, and the New Orleans Pelicans in 2015 en route to the championship that season.

Even without head coach Steve Kerr, who is away from the team to deal with lingering affects from back surgery in 2015, and assistant coach Mike Brown moving into Kerr’s chair for the second straight game (and for the foreseeable future), the Warriors played the brand of basketball that has become must-see-television for the past three seasons under Kerr in Game 4.

Curry shot 12-of-20 from the field, including 7-of-11 on 3s to go along with eight assists and seven rebounds in 30 minutes.

Draymond Green added 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three blocks in 33 minutes. Green, who by all accounts is the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, leads all players with 4.7 blocks per game in the playoffs.

Klay Thompson, who struggled for most of the series shooting 37-percent from the field and 35-percent on 3s, bounced back in the clincher with 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting (3-of-5 on 3s) in 30 minutes.

Kevin Durant returned back in the starting lineup, adding 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting in 20 minutes.

Durant was sidelined in both Games 2 and 3 with a strained left calf, showed no signs of the injury whenever he drove the ball to the basket as evident of his dunk that increased Golden State’s lead to 22-3 at one point.

Golden State’s hot three-point shooting was in true form in Game 4, as the team knocked down 17-of-29 (58.6-perecent) from beyond the arc. The team had 27 assists (with 10 turnovers) on 46 made baskets (53.5-percent) from the floor, while holding a 45-39 edge on the boards.

The Warriors jumped out early on the Trail Blazers, scoring 45 points in the first quarter tying an NBA record for most points in a single quarter (Portland had 22 at the end of the first quarter). The Houston Rockets scored 45 points against Golden State on May 25, 2015 in Game 4 of their best-of-seven conference semifinals, per ESPN Stats and Information.

Portland was hit with a massive uppercut by the Warriors in the first quarter that they never recovered from the rest of the game.

Golden State started off hot in the first quarter, going on a 14-0 run before Portland scored their first basket, a three-pointer by Evan Turner. Golden State shot 15-of-18 in the first quarter and led as much as 33 points in the game.

By halftime, the game was never in doubt when Golden State was leading 72-48.

But Portland’s season really came to an end when Curry drained a rainbow three-pointer from 31-feet that pushed the Warriors’ lead to 104-77 late in the third quarter that sucked the final breath out of the Trail Blazers.

Damian Lillard, Oakland’s native son, tried to will Portland as he’s done for most of the season, led the Trail Blazers with 34 points on 12-of-24 shooting to go along with six assists. Lillard was given a standing ovation by the remainder of the Moda Center crowd when he left the floor at the 6:12 mark in the fourth quarter.

Al-Farouq Aminu finished with 25 points and seven rebounds in 35 minutes and Shabazz Napier scored 14 points off the bench for the Trail Blazers, who just completed their fourth-straight playoff appearance under head coach Terry Stotts.

Per ESPN Stats and Information, this is the first time since 1999 that the Trail Blazers have been swept in a best-of-seven series when they lost to the San Antonio Spurs, who went on to win their first NBA championship in franchise history after the NBA players’ lockout shorten the season to 50 games.

The real dud of the night was the performance of shooting guard, C.J. McCollum in the biggest game of the season for Portland which was real head scratching to watch.

After averaging 28.0 points per game in the series, McCollum was nowhere to be found in as he couldn’t buy a basket for most of the game.

McCollum started the first half shooting 0-of-7 from the floor.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, that was McCollum’s second scoreless first half of the season. McCollum finished the game 2-of-12 from the floor for just six points.

With the Jazz-Clippers series tied at 2-2, Golden State won’t play another game until this weekend which will give the team a  chance to rest. Getting players like Shawn Livingston (right index finger sprain) and Matt Barnes (right ankle/foot sprain) additional rest will be key for Golden State.

Livingston hasn’t played since Game 1, while Barnes hasn’t been available for the entire series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extra Dribbles: Short-handed Warriors put 3-0 stranglehold on Trail Blazers

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

PORTLAND — Stephen Curry scored a game-high 34 points to go along with eight assists and Klay Thompson finished with 24 points and the Warriors erased a 16-point third quarter deficit to put the Trail Blazers on the brink of elimination with a hard-fought 119-113 victory Saturday night in Portland.

Both Curry (10-of-25) and Thompson (8-of-21) struggled in the first half before finding their respective strokes in the second half.

Andre Iguodala scored 16 points and Patrick McCaw (starting his second career postseason game), added 11 points.

Draymond Green had another stat-sheet filling night with nine points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and six blocks.

With the win, Golden State snaps a five-game postseason losing streak in Game 3s. Through the first three games, Golden State’s +47 combined win margin is the largest for any playoff series in franchise history.

Golden State can send the Trail Blazers fishing for the summer with a win in Game 4 on Monday night in Portland.

Without head coach Steve Kerr (illness), Kevin Durant (calf), Shaun Livingston (hand), and Matt Barnes (ankle),  the Golden State Warriors resembled more of the walking wounded rather than the NBA’s best team entering Game 3 of their best-of-7 series; but played smart and calm down the stretch that resulted in the victory.

Check out my takeaways below that led to Golden State’s win:

Golden State owned the third quarter: Trailing 82-66 after a Damian Lillard finger roll with 6:20 left in the third quarter, the Warriors stormed back with a 19-1 run, taking an 85-83 lead when JaVale McGee slammed through a lob with 2:01 left in the quarter.

Golden State overcame a 16-point hole and 52-42 rebounding edge by the Blazers to neutralize Portland to 30.4-percent shooting for the quarter. During their hot run, Golden State held Portland to 0-of-8 shooting, with three turnovers.

Per ESPN Stats and Information, Thompson made more 3s in the third (4) than total field goals made (3) in the first half.

The Warriors ended the third quarter on a 21-6 run.

Take another bow, McGee: There’s no question that Curry and Thompson were huge in Golden State’s second half comeback, but the play of McGee in Game 3 was just as vital.

McGee, who has been referenced as a “vertical spacer” by the Warriors’ coaching staff, has been just that against the Trail Blazers this series with his penchant for catching the lob pass for hammering dunks.

In 16 minutes on the floor tonight, McGee scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor, to go along with four rebounds. The reserve center was +24 whenever he was on the court.

When you combine his performances from Game 1 (6 points on 3-of-4 FG) and Game 2 (15 points on 7-of-7 shooting) with his line from Game 3 (14 points on 6-of-8 shooting), McGee has scored 35 points on 16-of-19 shooting.

Portland’s backcourt is fun to watch and aren’t the problem: Through the first three games, Lillard and C.J. McCollum have made life difficult for the NBA’s second-ranked defense during the regular season with their ability to score nearly at will. Outside of Game 2, Portland’s electrifying backcourt has torched Golden State:

In Game 1: 75 of Portland’s 109 points on 38-of-54 shooting (7-of-15 3FG).

In Game 2: 23 of Portland’s 80 points on 9-of-34 shooting (1-of-7 3FG).

In Game 3: 63 of Portland’s 119 points on 20-of-46 shooting (10-of-22 3FG).

McCollum led all Trail Blazers with 32 points and Lillard finished with 31 points, seven rebounds, and four assists in Game 3, where Portland was feeding off of its raucous crowd.

Portland did get center Jusuf Nurkic back in the starting lineup for Game 3 after missing the first two games of the series with a non-displaced fracture in his left leg he suffered late in the season that caused him to miss the final seven games.

Nurkic finished with two points and 11 rebounds in 17 minutes of action and was a non-factor.

Al-Farouq Aminu had 14 points and nine rebounds to lead Portland’s bench, while Noah Vonleh added 10 points and seven rebounds.

Allen Crabbe, whose struggled in the series shooting just 33-percent from the floor, scored eight.

Golden State held the edge in points in the paint (46-38) and fastbreak points (22-6).

Extra Dribbles: Without Durant, Warriors wallop Trail Blazers in Game two 110-81

Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry drives to the basket against the Portland Trail Blazers during Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Wednesday, April 19, 2017, in Oakland, Calif. (Ezra Shaw, Getty Images via AP, Pool)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND — Even without star forward Kevin Durant, who didn’t play due to a left calf strain, the Golden State Warriors were able to impose their will in dominating fashion to take a 2-0 lead over the Portland Trail Blazers 110-81 Wednesday night at Oracle Arena.

Game 3 is Saturday night in Portland.

Check out my takeaways below that led to Golden State’s win in the best-of-7 first-round series:

The Splash Brothers were just damp in Game 2

Stephan Curry (6 of 18 FG) led Golden State with 19 points and Klay Thompson (6 of 17 FG) added 16 points, but the duo combined to shoot just 12 of 35 from the floor (7 of 20 3FG).

Curry couldn’t find the bottom of the basket in the first half, shooting 2 of 10 from the floor with 6 points and 4 assists, while Thompson started cold in the first half, knocking down just 3 of 9 from the floor for 8 points.

Patrick McCaw, who started in place of Durant, had nine points and five rebounds.

I don’t expect the Warriors prized backcourt to have another slow shooting night, especially in Portland, where Golden State will be greeted by a rabid Moda Center in prime time.

Golden State jumped out to a 33-17 lead in the first quarter, shooting 13 of 22 from the field on 11 assists, before finishing with a 31 to 17 assist advantage over the Trail Blazers.

The Warriors turned up the defense in the opening frame, holding Portland to just 6 of 21 from the field.

Golden State’s biggest lead of the game was 32 points 96-64 midway through the fourth quarter.

Draymond Green is always on time: Although he didn’t score 19 points tonight as he did in Game 1 finishing with just 6, Green was up to his old tricks again filling up the stat sheet.

Green recorded 12 rebounds and 10 assists in Game 2, a nice follow up to his 19 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in Game 1.

Center of attention: There are still times where I scratch my head and wonder how are the Warriors making lemonade out of their weakest position, center?

JaVale McGee actually led Golden State in scoring at halftime, piling up 15 points on 7 of 7 shooting. Granted, a bunch of those shots were putbacks and one spin-move that left Trail Blazers center Noah Vonleh’s head spin.

McGee scored 6 points on 3 of 4 shooting in Game 1 before coming alive for the Warriors in Game 2.

Throw in Zsa Zsa Pachulia’s 10 points on 5 of 8 shooting, James Michael McAdoo’s 7 points on 2 of 5 shooting, and Damian Jones’s free throw, Golden State’s big men contributed 33 points on 14 of 20 shots from the floor.

The Warriors controlled the paint, outscoring Portland 50 to 36 inside and held a 54 to 47 rebounding edge.

There is no secret that the loss of center Jusef Nurkic has been a glaring hole for Portland, who are hoping that the big man could suit up when the Trail Blazers return home for Games 3 and 4.

After gigantic performances in Game 1, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum were duds in Game 2: Look, the writing is on the wall for the Trail Blazers. Portland has a backcourt that is comparable to the Splash Brothers, but they can’t do it by themselves.

After combining for 75 points on 52% shooting (7 of 15 3FG) in Game 1, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum couldn’t carry Portland in Game 2 as Lillard and McCollum combined for 23 points on 9 of 34 from the floor.

Golden State put the clamps on Portland’s dynamic backcourt after the pair were virtually un-guardable in Game 1.

McCollum finished with a career playoff-high with 41 points while draining four 3-pointers, but was just 4 of 17 from the floor.

Lillard was missing in action as the Warriors held the Oakland product to just 12 points on 5 of 14 shooting.

Lillard and McCollum are fantastic scorers, but it was forward Maurice Harkless who led Portland with 15 points and eight rebounds in Game 2.

Shabazz Napier was the only other Portland player in double digits with 10 points. Allen Crabbe shot just 3 of 10 in Game 2, finishing with just 6 points and was 0 of 4 from beyond the arc.

This was Golden State’s 12th win in their last 13 meetings with Portland in the postseason. The last time Portland defeated Golden State in the playoffs, it was in Game 3 of last season’s Western Conference Semifinals.

 

 

 

Extra Dribbles: Durant shows he’s ready for long postseason run with Warriors

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrates during the second half of Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, April 16, 2017. The Warriors won 121-109. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND — The whole basketball world knows that the only way that it’s championship-or-bust for the Golden State Warriors this season.

Even after leading the NBA in wins for a third-straight season (67-15), if the Warriors don’t bring home their second Larry O’Brien trophy in three years, the 2016-17 season will be considered a failure.

Period.

But forward Kevin Durant and the top-seeded Warriors look like they are ready to claim their rightful place as the best team in the NBA at the end of June, after holding off the visiting eighth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers 121-109 victory Sunday in front of frenzied, sold out Oracle Arena in Game 1 of the first-round series.

Here are a few of my takeaways from Golden State’s win:

Durant is big time: Durant finished with a team-high 32 points to go along with 10 rebounds in his playoff debut with Golden State. Durant shot 12 of 20 from the floor and showed no signs of a player who missed 19 games in the second half before returning for the Warriors’ final three games of the season due to a recent knee injury.

“The game ratchets up when you get into the playoffs,” Durant said after the game. “I definitely felt good out there.”

Entering Sunday’s playoff game, Durant is averaging 28.8 points and eight rebounds per game in 91 career playoff games, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

Another day at the office for Mr. Green: Draymond Green continues to be the heartbeat of the Warriors and it was business as usual for Green after recording a near triple-double, finishing with 19 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, five blocked shots (two that kept Oracle buzzing), and three steals.

With all due respect to Durant, Stephen Curry (29 points, 9/19 FG, 5 REB, 4 AST) and Klay Thompson (15 points, 6/16 FG, 1/6 3FG), Green is vital for Golden State to win the title this year. Green is the emotional leader of the team, the guy who brings his lunchbox and hard hat to work game-in, game-out, and possibly, the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year this season.

Trail Blazers have Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but not much more: McCollum tied a Trail Blazers franchise record for most points in the first half of a playoff game with 27, and Damian Lilliard scored 21 points as Portland’s backcourt combined to score 48 of the team’s 56 points at half time.

McCollum finished with a playoff career-high 41 points on 16 of 28 and eight rebounds, while Lillard scored 34 points on 12 of 26 shooting and five rebounds.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Lillard and McCollum are the first Trail Blazers teammates to score 34 or more points in a playoff game since Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter on May 19, 1992. Their 75 points were two off the franchise playoff record by teammates.

That sounds all good,  but Portland won’t win a game in the series if their star-studded backcourt has to continue to shoulder the load and not get any help from the role players.

Maurice Harkless was the only other Trail Blazer who had double-digit shot attempts (5/13 FG) and finished with 11 points. Evan Turner scored 12 points.

Portland’s bench was missing in action, scoring just nine points, while reserve guard Ian Clark scored 12 of Golden State’s 22 points off the bench.

The Trail Blazers were without center Jusuf Nurkic, who missed the game with a non-displaced fracture in his right leg.

Game 2 is Wednesday back in Oakland. Golden State is hoping that reserve forward Matt Barnes, who didn’t play in Game 1 due to an ankle injury, is ready to go.

Golden State held the rebounding edge (45-38) and shot 53.1% (43/81 FG) from the floor, while holding Portland to 43% shooting (40/93 FG) for the game.

 

 

 

The Warriors win a thriller in Portland as they hold on to win

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.

 

The Portland Trailblazers give the Warriors a very tough battle, however, the Warriors do not lose 125-117

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.