The Portland Trail Blazers faced the Golden State Warriors tonight exactly one game after the Warriors had their season-long home winning streak broken by the Boston Celtics. Portland put in a mighty effort, scoring 111 courtesy of a Damian Lillard scoring monsoon. But the Blazers allowed their opponent 136 points. With the scoreboard ringing like a pinball machine, not even the ghost of Doug Moe could have saved Portland from their fate...another loss to the league's best team and another day waiting for good news about an inevitable playoff clinch.
For the first 12 minutes the Blazers looked like they had a chance. Their energy matched, then exceeded Golden State's. On the night a slightly-out-of-shape Festus Ezeli made his triumphant return to the starting lineup, Mason Plumlee and company ran him off the court. Portland's streaking attack would net a fairly impressive 15 fast break points for the game, half again Portland's usual total. The first quarter sparkled with leak outs and passes for layups. The Blazers blasted the Warriors on the offensive glass and scored off of drives, then salted in a few threes with their extremely high-percentage lane opportunities. Portland missed only 3 shots all period that they did not rebound themselves. The result was 37 points and a tidy advantage exiting the first.
But even as the sun shone, the buds of defeat blossomed. The Blazers just couldn't contain in the lane. Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Ezeli all connected in the paint early. Portland's backcourt celebrated the arrival of spring by skipping the dryer and hanging their frontcourt mates out to dry...repeatedly. If you have to keep one eye on the lane against the Warriors, shading down to prevent layups, you know an eruption is nigh. Smoke plumes puffed out the top of the volcano in the first as the Blazers led only 37-31 after a near-flawless performance.
Then that baby blew. As did Portland's defense. And that's pretty much the story of the rest of the game.
Throughout the game Portland's bench players proved less adept at scoring than their first-unit counterparts, which was strike one. Portland's ability to keep the Warriors out of the lane improved not a whit. Not even half a whit. That was strike two. When Golden State started rebounding and running, seizing control of tempo from the Blazers, the at-bat was over and the Warriors took over the plate. They never surrendered it, keeping pace even without three-pointers and burying Portland whenever the triples started to fall.
By halftime Portland's 6-point lead had become a 7-point deficit. The Warriors were just getting warmed up.
The third period was notable for three things:
1. If you want to see how not to leave a center strung out on defense, watch what happened to poor Mason Plumlee. He had no chance.
2. Damian Lillard and Steph Curry engaged in an epic duel which saw Curry score 14 in the period and Lillard 16. This was worth the price of admission alone.
3. Despite Lillard's heroics, Golden State racked up 38 points in the period, giving them 101 in 36 minutes of play. They weren't just beating the Blazers to shooting spots off of picks (which you'd expect). They continued to beat Portland down the court and to rebounds.
The Warriors led 101-89 as the fourth quarter commenced. Despite Curry and Green sitting the Blazers cut nothing off of that lead in the first 6 minutes of the period. Their final opportunity squandered, it was white flag time for Portland and another home celebration for the Warriors.
Golden State didn't post a single quarter below 30 points this evening. The 31-point first-period effort proved their lowest, followed by 32, 38, and 35. With "pretty spectacular" as the low end of their opponent's production, the Blazers had zero chance to win.
Remember those 15 fast break points the Blazers scored? Golden State finished with 28.
Portland's huge offensive rebounding performance in the first quarter went for naught as the teams tied at 11 offensive boards for the evening.
Oh, and Golden State shot 57% from the field and 60% from the arc. They attempted 30 shots from distance too, so it's not like that was a statistically-aberrant line. Curry scored 39, hitting 9-13 from distance. Klay Thompson scored 21 on 8-17 shooting. Golden State's reserve guards shot 9-13, 69% from the field.
Summation: might as well stick Hugh Laurie in uniform, cuz the Blazers just got housed.
Damian Lillard finished 13-27 from the field and 4-9 from the arc for 38 points. He committed to scoring in the lane and acquitted himself well there. But Curry made him look pretty bad on defense, not just on long-range shots but on the drive as well. Few teams use picks as often and well as the Warriors do and Portland just doesn't deal well with screens.
CJ McCollum scored 18 on 6-14 shooting and got plastered on the defensive end too.
Al-Farouq Aminu didn't have enough support around him to make his defense tell. He ended up dishing 5 assists, as the Warriors tried to take the ball out of the hands of Lillard and McCollum.
Mason Plumlee also got more touches as the guards got jammed up but paired 4 turnovers with his 6 assists.
Moe Harkless had a decent night, grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring 15 points on 13 shots.
Portland's entire bench got slaughtered. Ed Davis and Gerald Henderson put in plenty of effort. Davis had 9 rebounds and 3 blocks in 21 minutes while Henderson shot 50% from the field. But those were little seeds in the big pile of bird poop. Something might come of them someday. For now, just don't step in it.
Links and Such
Golden State Of Mind will celebrate yet another win.
The Trail Blazers get a day off before facing Chaos, Inc. (a.k.a. the Sacramento Kings) in Sactown on Tuesday night.