The Quick Version:
[An extended quarter-by-quarter recap of this game is further down this article. It's a can't-miss.]
Golden State dominated the Blazers through most of the first half, using strong rebounding and cold Blazer shooting to easily keep an advantage. Portland offense slowed down into ISO's, and the Warriors had no problem forcing low-percentage Blazer shots. This looked like a game that would be lamented as a lost opportunity, as the Blazers simply couldn't--
That was the sound of Andrew Bogut's elbow hitting Joel Freeland right in the chin and neck. In the ensuing scrum, Mo Williams and Wesley Matthews were thrown out. But Bogut walked back onto the court, only given one technical for his role instigating the incident. The Blazers were angry. And opponents won't like the Blazers when they're angry.
Portland's defense reached a level you'd expect to see in Game 7 of the NBA Playoffs. On possession after possession, the Blazers forced the Warriors into turnovers, bad shots, or simply blocked their shot attempts. And in turn, Aldridge took over, dominating David Lee and the Warriors in the post. Golden State (the team and the fans) looked shell-shocked, not expecting this response from the Blazers. The Warriors could get nothing started, sometimes due to a Blazer steal early in the shot clock. They had no answers, and then the game was over.
This is the Blazers' tenth straight win, their longest since the 13-game winning streak by the Brandon Roy-led Blazers in 2007. Their 12-2 start to the season is the best since 1999, when the Rasheed Wallace-led Blazers started 13-2.
LaMarcus Aldridge had a show-stopper, MVP-level performance. Despite a slow start, he came alive after the brawl, going into "Give me the ball!" mode, and either scored, hit free throws, or both. He finished with an amazing 31 points, 20 rebounds 3 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks.
LaMarcus Aldridge is the first NBA player with at least 30 points, 21 rebounds, three steals and three blocks since David Robinson (2/27/92)— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) November 24, 2013
Like Aldridge, Damian Lillard struggled in the first half, but after the brawl, came alive. Late in the third quarter, he personally led the Blazer comeback with intense focus and strong shooting. This may be the spark he needed to break out of his mini-slump. He scored 20 points with 9 assists.
Wesley Matthews was hot. Insanely hot. Next-level hot. He could have coughed the ball toward the rim and it would have swished. He had 23 points on 8-9 shooting before the third-quarter ejection.
Nicolas Batum had a classic Nic night. He was solid, in the background, and made a few things happen in the clutch, including a three-pointer and a dunk on the break. He finished with 14 points, 4 assists and 2 steals.
Robin Lopez had 8 points and 9 rebounds, but altered shots and fought for rebounds. At one point, a defensive rebound bounced on the court because Lopez had blocked out his player so well. Add a few "rebound assists", so to speak.
Quarter by Quarter:
First Quarter: Yet another Blazer opponent came out shooting hot. But Matthews and the Blazers returned the favor, swishing three-pointers to pull ahead. The Warriors had no answer to Wesley, who started driving and posting up to force Klay Thompson into two early fouls. Even with two missed free throws, he had 13 points in the first six minutes of the quarter! But just like that, the Blazers suddenly went ice-cold (featuring more missed shots from Lillard and Aldridge), and Golden State regained the lead. The Blazer bench kept the game close as the quarter came to a close.
Golden State 24, Portland 23
Very bad on both ends by Lillard, trying too hard.
Second Quarter: Despite their crazy-cold shooting and minimal passing, the Blazers kept it close for a bit, but the Warriors pulled down the rebounds, and got aggressive on offense. They pushed ahead by 8, followed by 7 straight Blazer points, only for Portland to promptly give up a wide-open three-pointer at the other end. More Blazer sloppiness helped the Warriors easily regain their 8 point lead. Soon the lead was 12, and the Blazers were simply playing one-on-one at the offensive end, missing shots on every trip. On defense, they were allowing free trips to the hoop. But as Lillard returned, the Blazers finally went on a 9-0 to close the gap. They stayed within reach at halftime.
Golden State 54, Portland 49
Thing about Portlnad, we win games and stay close. And we aren’t even playing close to as well as we could.
Third Quarter: The Warriors went through Klay Thompson, and it paid off as they jumped ahead by 12 again behind back-to-back three-pointers by his teammate, Stephen Curry. Lillard couldn't hit a layup, and the Curry/Thompson combo was red-hot, and the Warriors started to pull away. But Matthews found his three-point stroke to get the Blazers back within single-digits. Finally, the simmering anger between the two teams overflowed, as Andrew Bogut instigated contact by elbowing Joel Freeland in the throat/face. Freeland backed off, but both teams joined in, leading to a scrum between the two teams. The refs went to the replay to decide what to call.
They ejected Mo Williams and Wesley Matthews (his second Technical), plus Draymond Green, but allowed Bogut to stay in the game to the cheers of the Oakland crowd.
Ridiculous. Just ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.— Chris McGowan (@blazerschris) November 24, 2013
The refs followed this up with a foul on the Blazers as Golden State pulled further ahead, and the wind was taken out of Portland's sails. But when all looked lost, the Blazers came alive. Lillard took over, hitting two consecutive three-pointers in the final minute to give the Warriors some doubts.
Golden State 84, Portland 81
Within three. Game is there for the taking, especially with Curry limited.
by Roy Wonder
Fourth Quarter: Golden State pulled ahead by 5, but within seconds, Lillard and Aldridge tied it up for the first time since early in the game. And somehow Freeland got open for a 10 foot jumper, and gave the Blazers the lead! He followed it with another jumper for a 4 point lead! Aldridge blocked a layup attempt by Lee, and after getting fouled, hit two more free throws for a 6 point Blazer lead. Thompson tried to return the favor, but lowered his shoulder into Lillard for his sixth foul. Portland's defense took over, stopping Golden State on every possession as the clock ticked under 4 minutes.
Aldridge again pounded the ball into the post, and was again fouled by Lee, who struggled to keep up on defense. His free throws gave the focused, aggressive Blazers an 8 point lead with 3:47 left. Another Blazer steal led to a break, and a Lillard pass to Batum for a dunk! They immediately shut down the Warriors again, leading to Lillard being fouled on the break. The Oakland crowd was stunned at the turnaround as Lillard sank both free throws for a 12 point lead with 3 minutes left to complete a 14-0 Blazer run. Golden State closed to 10, but Batum swished a three-pointer in response!
The Warriors tried a last-ditch comeback, but Aldridge calmly drew a foul and nailed the jumper, and the fans, who were laughing at the Blazers during the scrum, quietly headed for the exits. The Warriors finished the quarter with 17 points and 8 rebounds, while Aldridge personally had 15 points and 9 rebounds.
The Blazers had a "euphoria" type celebration in the locker room after the Warriors win, source said.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) November 24, 2013
Ejected Blazers Wes Matthews & Mo Williams greeted teammates outside lockeroom after GS win. Aldridge told them, "(The win) is for y'all."— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) November 24, 2013
The Blazers fly home for a day off, and the unexpectedly-woeful New York Knicks (sans the injured Raymond Felton) will be in town for a Monday night game. It might be a little loud.
While plans may still change, the jersey contest will hopefully resume that night!
Comments of the night!
Thanks to everyone who participates in our nightly Gameday Threads! We had over 2,500 tonight alone. I always quote a few favorites in the recap, but for a little extra fun, these were the most popular comments of the night based on number of recs: