The Portland Trail Blazers built an early 17-point lead over the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the 2016 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinal. But it all came crashing down, as the Warriors outscored the Blazers 34-12 in the fourth quarter to hand Portland yet another fourth quarter playoff meltdown.
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard with 25 points. The Warriors were led by Klay Thompson with 27 points.
Portland's primary goal this game, besides getting a win, was to get off to a better start than in Game 1. The Blazers started beautifully, opening the quarter with a 10-3 lead. They shot well, took care of the ball, and owned the boards. It was a minor miracle at Oracle Arena as the Warriors were the first to call a timeout three minutes into the game. Defensively, Maurice Harkless did a fantastic job on Klay Thompson before Harklss went out with two fouls, but he seemed to do enough to throw Thompson's rhythm off for the quarter. CJ McCollum (9 points) and Al-Farouq Aminu (10 points) got rolling offensively for the Blazers, helping to propel their team to a 24-13 lead. By the end of the period, the Blazers had succeeded in their first goal of this game.
End of First: Portland 34, Golden State 21
Coach Stotts threw out his first monkey wrench at the Warriors by sending in Brian Roberts to start the second. The bench unit of Roberts, Allen Crabbe, Ed Davis and Gerald Henderson helped extend Portland's lead to 45-28 with Henderson being particular effective on his jumpshot. Stymieing a bigger lead for the Blazers was their poor free-throw shooting, especially glaring when they were getting many more chances than the Warriors at the line. Then it happened, something we all knew was coming, the Warriors went on a monster 18-4 run, upping their defensive aggression on Portland, forcing turnovers and tough shots on every Blazer possession. Portland's free flowing offense stalled out. The Blazers didn't fold, however, and responded nicely with back-to-back threes from Aminu and Damian Lillard, spearheading an 8-0 run of their own. Draymond Green, who probably flexes his muscles every time he feeds his cat, closed the quarter with an and-one. Green finished the half with 7 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. The Blazers were led by McCollum with 14 and Aminu with 13.
Halftime: Portland 59, Golden State 51
The Blazers opened the half with a barrage of turnovers and missed shots, Lillard being especially cold. Portland got its first point off a Thompson technical nearly three minutes into the period. Harkless got the Blazers' first field goal, a three with just over 8 minutes remaining, but then got his fourth foul right after, forcing him to the bench early. Thompson, like most of the Warriors, continued to misfire on threes and Portland continued to take advantage as Lillard began to find a groove, his three with just over four minutes remaining upping the Blazer lead back to 10. Lillard, who had 17 in the quarter much to the delight of the home crowd, ended the period with a three to keep momentum on Portland's side.
End of Third: Portland 87, Golden State 76
Golden State opened with a 6-0 run as Lillard sat to get a breather. But, the Blazers were again able to hold off another Warriors rally, giving Lillard enough rest to come back into the game at the eight minute mark. Golden State continued to punish the Blazers inside the paint, as they did all game, but it was a Thompson three that tied the game at 83 with just under seven remaining. The Blazers went to Plumlee(?) time and again in the fourth but couldn't do anything against the Warriors defense and Golden State went up five with three to go and it would only get worse from there, the Blazers offense stalling again at the worst time in an all too familiar fourth quarter meltdown. Lillard, the hot hand in the third, was a non-factor in the fourth. The Warriors run away with it in the end, outscoring the Blazers 34-12 in the period and sending Portland on a long plane ride home.
The Blazers return home for Game 3 on Saturday night at the Moda Center. Tip off is at 5:30. Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge tonight, for extended analysis of this game from Dave Deckard.