The Portland Trail Blazers were predicted to be heavy underdogs going into their second round series with the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. And it showed, as the Warriors leaped in front early and never looked back, destroying Portland from buzzer to buzzer during a rare Blazer network television appearance. This was a game where the score was somehow still not reflective of how one-sided this contest became.
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard (30 points, many in garbage time), Al-Farouq Aminu (15 points), and Allen Crabbe off the bench (15 points).
The Warriors got exactly what they needed from the get-go - a near-perfect start for Klay Thompson and a cold start for Damian Lillard. Thompson drilled four of his first five attempts from the field - twice from three-point range - for an early 10 points which helped jet Golden State out to an early 14-2 lead. Lillard, meanwhile, had his hands full being defended by the lengthy Thompson at the other end, missing his first four shots as the Blazers quickly fell into a deep first-quarter hole. Until an and-1 layup in traffic during the final minute, Lillard's only scoring tally in the period came at the line, where he was 2/2, but the Warriors clearly demonstrated a physical tone to its defense which will likely be present throughout the series.
Dame didn't get much help from his teammates either - Portland didn't eclipse the 10-point mark until Al-Farouq Aminu's jumper at the 3:47 mark. Thompson and Leandro Barbosa buried back-to-back threes in response, and Golden State continued to push the advantage to 17, then 18 and then finally 20 on yet another Thompson three in the closing seconds. Klay's 18 points outscored Portland himself, and and Blazers found themselves in a meat grinder.
End of First: Portland 37, Golden State 17
For all of the disaster that was the opening quarter, Portland fared pretty well - all things considered - to begin the second. CJ McCollum running the point led the Blazers on a 14-4 run to begin to period, pulling within 11 on a putback dunk by Ed Davis.
Davis was a much-needed shot in the arm, as he delivered energy on the offensive glass which was previously non-existent. His first shift: 6 points, 4 rebounds - 2 offensive - and an assist in just 8 minutes with his usual workman-like tenacity. The Blazers would need whatever it could get to battle the Warrior's bruising interior, who were up to that point absolutely dominating the boards, more than doubling Portland's offensive total in the half 11-5.
The return of Thompson and Draymond Green to the lineup restored a bit of order to Golden State, but Lillard started to regain life, knocking down a three and getting to the line again to keep Portland in reach, before a three from Gerald Henderson cut the deficit to just 10 at 48-38.
A corner three from Aminu finally cut the lead to single-digits at 47-56 with two minutes remaining, but the Warriors finished the half strong with buckets from Green and Thompson to regain the momentum heading into the locker room.
Halftime: Portland 51, Golden State 65
The Blazers needed another strong start to the third but again struggled mightily to score against Golden State's starters, going 1-10 from the field before Maurice Harkless' alley-oop dunk in transition. But by then, the Warriors had already restored a 20-point lead and another comeback attempt looked to be a daunting task.
Thompson and Green continued to fire away and they found little else than the bottom of the net, connecting on back-to-back threes to give Golden State its largest lead of afternoon at 87-61.
Gerald Henderson and Anderson Varejao found themselves involved in two separate verbal confrontations on the court, both of which resulted in double-technicals and subsequently both were ejected. Henderson seemed to take offense to a trip from Varejao and video replay couldn't accurately reveal whether it was intentional or not. There wasn't much back-and-forth between the two, bu nonetheless, the officials decided to nip it in the bud before the dispute could escalate any further.
Allen Crabbe might have found the most success of any Blazer in the third, scoring six points off the bench - including his newly improving driving floater - and helped Portland claw back within 20 heading into the final frame.
After struggling through most of the contest, Lillard tried his darnedest to make the game interesting to begin the fourth, scoring eight-straight points, including back-to-back threes to pull the Blazers within 15 early in the period. But that's about as close as it would get, as once again, the Warriors' starters returned and kept Portland at bay. The Blazers closed the gap in garbage time, but the final score meant little in the end.
The Blazers will stay in Oakland for Game 2 Tuesday at Oracle Arena - tip set for 7:30 pm. Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge tonight, for extended analysis of this game from Dave Deckard.
-- Ryan Rosback | email@example.com | Twitter