By Matthew Harrington
Whatever message the Warriors discussed in a team meeting following their second-straight loss Friday night, one that saw a 15-point Golden State lead swing into a loss against the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers, certainly stuck with the Splash Brothers. It just took some time in Sunday evening’s 113-112 win over the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center for the backcourt tandem of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry to take over. The emerging faces of the franchise rallied Golden State (42-26) 18-point deficit in the third quarter to cap a wild comeback while avoiding a three-game losing skid for the first time since November 20-23 of this season.
Thompson, absent from Friday’s 103-94 loss to attend his grandfather’s funeral in the Bahamas, and Curry chipped in 15 points apiece in the fourth quarter, scoring 30 of 36 Warrior points in the pivotal period. The guards combined for 64 points, including 28 second-half points for Curry and 23 for Thompson to push the Dubs to their 15th triumph in 21 tries away from the friendly confines of Oracle Arena. The dominant road run is the first of its kind in franchise history.
After Curry’s 37 points and Thompson’s 27, including the eventual game-winner, David Lee finished third on the team with 16 points in only 24 minutes of play. Warriors forward Draymond Green had a team-high eight rebounds before fouling out. Damian Lillard led Portland (43-24) with 26 points while Nicolas Batum added 23 of his own to accompany a game-best 14 rebounds. Blazers center Robin Lopez converted a double-double as well, collecting 10 rebounds and 14 points. LaMarcus Aldridge sat out his second-consecutive game with a lower back contusion suffered in a 103-90 Blazers loss at San Antonio Wednesday.
Golden State opened the game again struggling to address the woes that sparked Friday’s closed-doors discussion. The Warriors found themselves trailing the team directly above them in the standings 55-44 at the half Sunday night. Portland, entering play with a 3.5 games ahead of the Warriors for fifth in the Western Conference, built on its first half success in the third. The Blazers took their largest cushion of the night, an 18-point separation, after Nicolas Batum hit a three to make it 70-52 Blazers 4:11 into the quarter. The Dubs chipped away with a 25-15 run over the final four-plus minute stretch to cut the deficit to 85-77, setting up the thrilling fourth-quarter momentum shift.
12 minutes away from only what would be only the second three-game losing streak all season, Golden State rallied to tie the game at 96-all with just over half a quarter. The Warriors evened the score courtesy of string of play where the Dubs limited Portland to 11 points while scoring 19 of their own over the first half of the final period of play. After Curry hit the free throw on Portland coach Terry Stotts’ technical foul, Thompson connected on only the second of two attempts from the charity stripe to give the Warriors their first lead since the first quarter now standing six minutes from the final whistle.
The lead changed hands five times over the next 5:49 of game time before Thompson,who arrived in the States late Saturday night, buried a three with just 11 seconds remaining on the clock to swing the scoreboard in the Warriors’ favor 113-111. Golden State’s Andre Iguodala fouled Batum on a bid to even the game with five ticks left on the clock but the Blazers forward missed the potential tying shot after getting the first free throw to fall. Batum followed his miss and came up with the rebound, but his three-pointer from far out fell a few feet short of the basket as the buzzer sounded for Portland’s fifth loss in six games.
Warriors Center Andrew Bogut departed the game with 6:22 to play after suffering an apparent ankle injury on a layup attempt. Warriors coach Mark Jackson dismissed any concerns about the Aussie’s health, saying that Bogut asked to be subbed back in. Barring any setbacks, he should be on the Oracle Arena floor Tuesday night when the Warriors take on the Orlando Magic.