Warriors make quick work of Blazers 128-112
The Golden State Warriors dominated the Portland Trail Blazers in their long-awaited Friday night meeting, 128-112. Klay Thompson scored 37 points, Stephen Curry had 34 and Draymond Green had 17 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. No Blazer eclipsed the 20-point mark in the loss.
The Blazers allowed the Warriors to score 81 points in the first half and Lillard failed to score 20 points for the first time in 16 games, finishing with 17. CJ McCollum led the Blazers with 18 points. It was a night when the Warriors put the world back on its axis. They also succeeded in never allowing Lillard to feel cozy in his hometown. The Blazers offense racked up the points thanks to the crazy fast tempo and good 3-point shooting but they couldn’t stop the Warriors at all.
The Blazers defeated the Warriors on Feb. 19 in a 137-105 beat down. Lillard had a season-high 51 points and the Warriors were extremely loose with the ball. So of course the Warriors, now 29-0 at home, were going to be hell–bent on showing the Blazers who the boss is. The Blazers made one more 3-pointer than the Warriors in a game when the two teams combined for an NBA-record 37 3-pointers. The Warriors also out-rebounded the Blazers by 17 and Portland was never able to catch up after the Warriors explosive 1st quarter.
The Blazers were shook early on, getting into their offense slowly instead of attacking the Warriors like they did in game they won a couple of weeks ago. It also hurt that they couldn’t follow up their incredible start from the field, which should have been expected. After making the Warriors pay for leaving him open last month, Noah Vonleh was bricking everything. But the Warriors missed a handful of lay-ups and Portland was able to stay in it after shaking off the early jitters.
Perhaps the Warriors locked in on transition defense in a way that they didn’t in the last meeting but the Blazers weren’t getting the same kind of penetration. They were going east-to-west, thanks in large part to excellent, attentive Warriors defense. When they did get into the paint, the Warriors did a much better job of not allowing them to get a beeline to the rim. Portland’s shooting percentage is a little misleading.
The Warriors continued to execute their dispiriting beatdown of the Blazers, which was an expected outcome. Not only did they lose to Portland but a bad road loss to the Lakers is also still fresh on their mind. While the Blazers presence fed the narrative that they wanted to prove something, the Warriors were making a statement that they will be alright in their chase for 73.
The Warriors lead got as high as 32 and the Blazers cut the lead down to 24 going into the 4th quarter. Lillard finally got going towards the end of the third even if it was too late. Meyers Leonard’s shooting helped but the Blazers defense had little hope of slowing down the Warriors who were hellbent on sending a message.
Stotts put Brian Roberts into the game towards the end of the third quarter and Pat Connaughton. Or so it seemed. Roberts is in the league because he can get buckets and he delivered on his reputation in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter.
The Warriors lead got down to 14 for the first time since the first quarter and with Andre Iguoadala in the locker room, the Warriors second unit wasn’t quite as good. But eventually the vibes didn’t last and the Warriors reserves did enough to put Portland’s hope of a miracle out of reach.
The game served as a good opportunity for the Blazers young guys to get run and not much else. The Warriors played their stars in the 4th quarter but the Blazers decided that it was a fruitless cause to send their guys out there with a young Orlando team coming to Portland tomorrow.
- This was a quintessential Warriors performance. Starters run up a massive lead thanks to amazing defense and hot shooting before the reserves close it out. But 81 points in the 1st half? That was a statement.
- With the way Noah Vonleh has played and the way Meyers Leonard has shot the ball, the narrative about who should start has come up again. It came up when noted NBA gambler Bob Voulgaris and CSNNW’s Jason Quick were discussing his value. I once again cited the Blazers record with him in the starting line-up and defensive stats that blow Portland’s original starting line-up of Meyers Leonard and Mason Plumlee out of the water. Vonleh’s individual plus-minus isn’t good, but their defense actually resembles an NBA team with him in Leonard’s place. But as I’ve stated before here and on my weekly spot on Dusty and Cam on 1080, I do think Leonard’s shooting will become more valuable in the playoffs. And given the defensive performance when he and Plumlee have shared the court, this would seem to be an unsustainable frontcourt partnership. The relationships and how players interact with each other on the court has to be considered. Leonard and Ed Davis is probably Portland’s best frontcourt partnership and that has flourished because of Leonard’s move to center. I don’t doubt that Leonard will have his moment in the playoffs, but I don’t think it should, or will come at power forward. The Blazers also don’t just have to play a traditional big at the 4 spot. Harkless and Aminu have both shown the ability to play power forward.
- This also came up when Sean Highkin and I brought up the decisions the Blazers have to make in restricted free agency on the Bulls vs. Blazers Podcast. I think if the Blazers do commit to Leonard long-term that Plumlee won’t be long for Portland.
- Speaking of Harkless, he wasn’t much of a factor in this game. He had 0 rebounds in 21 minutes after being a major contributor in the Feb. 19 win. He did not play in their win on Tuesday over the Wizards.
- Pat Connaughton did some things. He showed a lot of comfort handling the ball in the pick and roll and hit a difficult scoop shot on a drive. He had 7 points in the 4th quarter.
- The Blazers assigned Luis Montero and Cliff Alexander to the D-League’s Santa Cruz Warriors. They will be available for the Warriors’ game Saturday against the Los Angeles D-Fenders.
- The Blazers have a 1/2 game lead over the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks for 6th place in the West. The Rockets won tonight in Boston and the Mavericks are riding a 4-game losing streak.
- Andre Iguodala left the game late in the 3rd quarter after getting rolled up with Lillard in the chase for a loose ball. He suffered a sprained left ankle but x-rays were negative.