The Trail Blazers utilized a 27-point performance from Jusuf Nurkic to secure a thrilling 110-109 overtime victory over the Warriors. Despite the big fella’s contributions, Golden State made a late-game push to force extra time thanks to the play of Kevin Durant. It was a lackluster performance for the reigning champs, but they proved they can still put their foot on the accelerator when needed. Damian Lillard overcame a quiet second half to provide the game-clinching basket, which solidified a memorable win for the Oakland native in his final regular season visit to Oracle Arena.
Before Boogie Gets Back
Nurkic’s performance from the opening quarter was focused and dominant. He was patient in the post against smaller defenders, and found open teammates when his own opportunities stalled. Both CJ McCollum and Lillard endured extended scoring droughts, but Nurkic’s steady hand kept the Blazers competitive throughout the night.
Despite finishing with four turnovers, Nurkic’s composure played a huge part in Thursday’s win. Draymond Green was completely frustrated by the Bosnian Beast. During a heated exchange with under five minutes to go in regulation, Green’s emotions boiled over, earning him a technical.
In overtime, Nurkic’s positioning in the paint paved the way for several second-chance looks. With Golden State sending extra help down the stretch, Nurkic did an excellent job passing out of trouble. Unfortunately, both Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless failed to connect on the three-point chances created by the big fella’s passing.
Nurkic finished with a season-high 27 points, and recorded his third double-double in four games.
First Half Jitters, Fourth Quarter Redemption
The Blazers’ second unit looked like it was in for another long night after a disastrous shift in the first half. With the reserves on the floor, Portland’s supporting cast failed to register a single point in the first four minutes of the second quarter.
Thanks to a heroic performance from Seth Curry, the Blazers’ bench produced a different outcome in the fourth quarter. Opposite his brother, Curry scored all 11 of his points in the final period of regulation. Curry connected on all three of his attempts from beyond the arc—pushing Portland’s lead to double-double digits.
After a half decade of long postseason runs, it is clear that the Warriors aren’t too concerned with their regular season record. Outside of the clear shift in attitude, Green’s struggles on offense are obvious. Draymond has basically abandoned his outside shot, and opposing teams have adapted. Instead of getting a clear lane to the basket on off-ball cuts, Durant is now greeted by Green’s defender in the paint.
Despite a subpar performance, it is clear that Golden State still has another gear they can call upon. Klay Thompson got things going in the last three minutes of the third quarter by generating a four-point opportunity. He failed to connect on the free throw after being fouled from beyond the arc, but the crowd’s enthusiasm clearly translated to the court. The Warriors completed a 10-0 run as a result, reminding everyone how dangerous they can be.
Lillard recorded seven points after the third quarter concluded. After being smothered by Thompson on the last play of regulation, Lillard hit a signature three-point shot on a broken play. His last shot proved to be the difference after Durant’s final attempt fell short. Lillard finished with 21 points and five assists.
After a slow start in overtime, McCollum got the Blazers rolling. He recorded five of his 24 points in the extra period.
Along with Nurkic, Aminu helped keep crucial possessions alive for Portland. It was a rough night from beyond the arc for Aminu, but he finished with five offensive rebounds to counter his shooting struggles.
The Blazers and Warriors will travel to Portland to meet again on Saturday.
—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com