Coming into Oakland to play the Golden State Warriors is never a good time. The Portland Trail Blazers took the hottest team in the league packing an arsenal of hope and...more hope. The trio of Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson weren’t having any of it and they showed the Blazers no mercy. Golden State ran offense like practice drills while the Blazers struggled mightily to earn anything other than a mid-range jumper. Portland dug themselves a hole early then spent the evening burrowing deeper, ending up on the wrong side of a 135-90 loss, the biggest blowout of the year 135-90.
The Warriors made like the Evil Empire from the outset of this game, destroying worlds and defensive plans alike. The Warriors force you to make 3 or 4 defensive rotations per possession; Portland barely managed one. Kevin Durant and Steph Curry combined for 26 points in the quarter, leading their team to 39 total. The Blazers put up 21, going full on Jar Jar Binks against the Warriors’ Death Star.
Kevin Durant continued his ridiculous scoring in the second period. (Hint: He missed only one shot in the entire first half.) Meanwhile the Blazers, clearly unaware that you need to attack Golden State’s ventilation system, opted to fly their snub fighters right into the massive superstructure of Draymond Green. That plan ended about as well as you would expect. The score read 70-45, Warriors after 24 minutes.
The Blazers offered their first bit of real resistance on the defensive end as the third quarter commenced. That lasted exactly as long as it took Durant to connect with long-range laser fire beyond the arc. Like a lightsaber descending on an outstretched hand in the cantina, Golden State put an end to Portland’s pretensions of sneaking into this game. The Warriors led 108-72 after three.
Coach Stotts realized he didn’t need to get Admiral Ackbar’d into a trap game Tuesday evening against the Kings (or maybe he just couldn’t stand it anymore) so he emptied the deep bench to start the fourth period. As you would expect, there was plenty of “heart, hustle, grit, effort, etc” but it hardly affected the outcome. The Blazers lost the quarter, the game, and any last vestiges of momentum gained from their victory against Oklahoma City earlier in the week.
The Blazers spun the “which defense will show up tonight” wheel again tonight and it landed right between “pretty bad, but you’re playing the Warriors” and “downright terrible”. Durant, Thompson, and Curry all drew a bead on Portland uniforms early and the Blazers pretty much surrendered. All the bad things present in Thursday night’s loss to the Denver Nuggets reared their heads again tonight: terrible transition defense, unnecessary switches, blown (or no) rotations, and not recovering to shooters.
The Warriors are clearly the class of the Western Conference and the Blazers area long way from being anywhere near their level. Trying to make much more of it is an exercise in futility. This is a game you chalk up as a loss on the schedule under the best of circumstances. Under the current circumstances a BIG loss isn’t surprising.
It’s hard to credit much individual play in a 45-point blowout so let’s be brief.
Maurice Harkless was once again the only Blazer that played both ways. (ed. Just so you know, Dan means offense and defense, not sucky and suckier.) He gets credit for nearly all of Portland’s decent defensive plays and he knocked down shots against the single coverage the Warriors threw his way. He acquitted himself nicely tonight with 17 points, 2 steals, 2 blocks.
Damian Lillard often proves a flamethrower when returning to his hometown. (He’s averaged nearly 30 points per contest against the Warriors over the last three seasons.) Tonight, Golden State bottled him up and held him to 20 points and 1 assist. If the Blazers are going to have any kind of chance against this bunch on a normal evening he needs 35 and 8. Tonight 50 wouldn’t have been enough.
CJ McCollum had arguably his roughest night of the season. He was unable to get going on offense (10 points) and ineffective on defense. This will definitely be a game he’ll want to forget.
The Warriors pushed the ball early on makes or misses. The Blazers responded by sticking Noah Vonleh on Kevin Durant and Steph Curry. He’s got footspeed but...yeah.
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