Craig Mitchelldyer-US PRESSWIRE
After three tense quarters, the Warriors barely held off the Blazer bench for a victory. Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge rounded into (hopefully) regular season form, and the "Warriors starters vs Blazers bench" fourth quarter was unexpectedly entertaining.
The Blazers were led by the starters tonight. Damian Lillard (15 points, 7 assists) and LaMarcus Aldridge (18 points) were the main story, while Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum (14 and 15 points, respectively) played the supporting role. For the rooks, Meyers Leonard showed us how to foul, Victor Claver learned more about gauze, and Joel Freeland, and Will Barton enjoyed a fourth quarter run. Luke Babbitt scored in the fourth, as he clearly has surpassed Adam Morrison in the rotation. Nolan Smith had a rough night all around.
Golden State took early advantage of the Blazers' poor D in the paint, leading to easy basket after easy basket. However, suddenly the Blazers exploded. Aldridge led a 13 point Blazer run, as new Blazers Claver and Leonard joined in the fun. Claver left early after take a hard whack in the nose. After Portland took a 12 point lead, Golden State tried to close the gap, but the Blazers led 28-20 after one.
"Dave's fear that Meyers will get a reputation as a foul magnet might become true."
-Norsktroll (after Meyers picked up two more first quarter fouls)
With the Blazer bench on the court, the Warriors scored 6 quick points in the first two minutes of the second quarter to force a Stotts timeout. As scoring slowed down, Portland's 6 turnovers helped the Warriors inch into a 3 point lead. That brought most of the Blazer starters back into the game. Lillard showed his driving ability with a few nice layups in traffic, and the Blazers quickly took back the lead. From there, both teams went into dogfight mode to end the half, as Lillard ran the point and Aldridge took care of the scoring. The Blazers, thanks to LaMarcus' 16 points and Damian's 6 assists, kept a 3 point lead at halftime.
"This is fun basketball. Back to back swats by LMA and Hickson. Lillard throwing dimes."
Golden State (minus Stephen Curry, who rolled his ankle) kept the score close to start the third, with Klay Thompson personally doing the heavy lifting. By this point, this is no longer a preseason game; Stotts tightened his rotations and both teams are playing like something is on the line. David Lee and Aldridge seem to be attempting a one-upping contest. But for most of the third quarter, the Blazers relied on their free throw shooting, starting 11-11 but just 6 points from the floor after 8 minutes.They picked up the shooting late, including another Lillard-to-Leonard alley-oop dunk. However, the Warriors wouldn't go away, with some nice shooting (12-18 in the quarter) and an inside presence. Jarrett Jack inspired a late Golden State run, giving them a 5 point lead after three.
"This is almost like a real basketball game."
As the fourth quarter began, the basketball game ended. Coach Stotts rested his starters and emptied the bench, and the Warriors inexplicably did not. And somewhat hilariously, David Lee and the Warriors starters just couldn't pull away. Babbitt and Sasha Pavlovic kept the Blazers within striking distance, cutting the lead to 1 with a minute left. Down by 2 with 45 seconds left, Stotts called timeout to set up a play. Pavlovic took the three, but it fell short. Jarrett Jack quickly put the game away with a floater.
The box score is here. Stay tuned for more from Ben and Dave, and the next game is Monday night, at the Rose Garden against the Jazz. Two preseason games left before opening night on Halloween. -- Tim