In the final contest of the seemingly everlasting preseason, the Portland Trail Blazers fell on the road to the Golden State Warriors 107-96 Friday, finishing 4-3 in the exhibition.
Damian Lillard again looked the brightest and most dialed-in on the Blazers' side, but did most of his damage in the first half - 20 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds, but didn't find his stroke from deep (0-3 3PT). He looked especially good driving right into th teeth of the Warrors' interior, scoring in a nifty array of moves around the aging Zaza Pachulia, who couldn't seem to do anything with Lillard's suddenly re-surfaced quickness.
After a hot start, where Portland jumped out to an early double-digit lead, the remainder of the contest was dominated by the Warriors behind a three-point barrage. Before Golden State buckled down defensively about halfway through the first quarter, the Blazers moved the ball and scored with ease. As that success soured, so too seemed the defensive effort along with it.
The majority of Golden State's offense was dominated by Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, who combined for 63 points, including 13 three-pointers. The Warriors are mightily effective at setting screens which open brief windows to bomb away from the outside, and tonight it made Portland pay. The Blazers looked effective for brief stretches paying a mindful eye to the duo, but tonight they were just feeling it.
If it wasn't all but set in stone already, the starting lineup looks to be locked-and-loaded for Tuesday with Maurice Harkless manning the small forward spot alongside regulars Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu and Mason Plumlee.
McCollum was the only other Blazer starter to reach double-digits - scoring 16 points on 7-18 shooting. It wasn't his best performance of the preseason but still included little flashes of brilliance, including a deft no-look reverse bank finish late in the third quarter.
Plumlee was his usual active self (8 points, 6 rebounds 3 assists) and had maybe the highlight of the evening, finishing a one-handed alley-oop lob from Damian Lillard during Portland's early onslaught in the first quarter. His problem continues to be foul trouble, which he seems on pace to commit like 8 per game (he had 4 tonight in 21 minutes). The Blazers appear committed to a physical defensive style, but guys will need to keep themselves on the floor.
Following his best showing so far as a Blazer, Evan Turner turned in easily his worst, missing all 8 of his shots and scoring only 1 point with 3 turnovers. It will take some time for him to fully integrate.
After missing the previous two games, Meyers Leonard returned to play 16 minutes in the second half and was productive, scoring 12 points on 5-8 shooting. His biggest competition for playing time this season looks to be Ed Davis, who did not play at all in the second half after scoring 8 points in the first, and Noah Vonleh, who again turned in another strong preseason effort with 9 points and 9 rebounds in 22 minutes.
Tim Quarterman appears to be the winner of the final remaining roster spot, but only saw the floor during mop-up duties for 7 minutes in the fourth quarter. He scored 3 points.
Practice games are over - the regular season will finally begin Tuesday when the Trail Blazers host the Utah Jazz 7.p.m at the Moda Center.
-- Ryan Rosback | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter