The Portland Trail Blazers got big nights from its two stars, but it wasn’t enough to out-shoot the red-hot Golden State Warriors, who pulled away in the fourth quarter to win the opening game of the first round playoff series 121-109.
The final score does not accurately show how competitive this game was, as the Blazers played Golden State tight from the opening tip and kept close into the final minutes. C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard were spectacular but came up short of pulling the upset - McCollum led all scorers with 41 points and Dame was right behind him with 34 points.
With the Blazers needing an effort bordering on herculean, its backcourt delivered in electrifying fashion. C.J. McCollum tied a franchise playoff high with 27 points in the first half, and Damian Lillard added 21 of his own as the duo combined for all but eight of Portland’s points to keep pace with the more than offensively capable Warriors.
Even with a slew of superstar surrounding him, it was McCollum who went absolutely bonkers, putting on a show in front of a network TV audience with a dazzling array of stepbacks, floaters and finishes in traffic. Golden State threw solid defenders his way by the likes of Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, but C.J. still scored with ease.
Almost just as impressive was McCollum’s defense on Klay Thompson, holding his counterpart to just seven points in the half, and featuring some impressive sequences:
Where McCollum left off, Lillard carried the rest of the way for the Blazers - of C.J. was a surgeon methodically picking apart the Warriors, then Damian was a metalworker swinging a hammer. As McCollum started to get a bit tuckered out down the stretch, it was Lillard who knocked down some timely shots to keep Portland close, including this DEEP three:
Damian Lillard from Damian Lillard range pic.twitter.com/WvPjltYEqx— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) April 16, 2017
The Blazers managed to survive the initial onslaught from Golden State and keep close the rest of the way to head into the locker room at a deadlock.
Portland Trail Blazers 56, Golden State Warriors 56
Having expended so much energy keeping pace during the first half, and with the Warriors honing in on Lillard and McCollum even further defensively, Portland needed help from somewhere else in its lineup, and for a while they got it. With the backcourt held to just 14 points combined in the third quarter, the Blazers got a boon from its role players, who added 18 to yet again match Golden State heading into the final frame.
Maurice Harkless and Evan Turner in particular came up big in the period on both sides of the ball, each spending time guarding Kevin Durant and the latter knocking down two possession-saving threes late in the quarter.
In the fourth the Warriors started to find their groove defensively and just a few empty possessions on offense for Portland all-of-a-sudden allowed Golden State to rattle off a double-digit lead that would hold. Green had on more than one occasion a momentum-seizing defensive sequence - whether it was a block in transition or just forcing an out of bounds call - that felt backbreaking to the Blazers. Portland pulled as close as to within six points at 105-99 on Turner’s free throws, but the Warriors quickly regained control and easily held on to secure a Game 1 victory.
The Blazers will get another crack at the Warriors in Game 2, set for Wednesday in Oakland at 7:30 p.m. Pacific - TV broadcast will be on TNT.
-- Ryan Rosback | email@example.com | Twitter