In an impressive team effort, the Trail Blazers trounced the Warriors to extend their winning streak to nine games. Golden State faced plenty of hurdles without Stephen Curry on the court, but no obstacle was bigger than a confident Portland team that played competently at both ends. The Blazers answered Kevin Durant’s impressive 40-point performance with 58 combined-points from CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard. Portland’s backcourt wasn’t alone, as seven players finished in double figures. The Blazers have now enjoyed two victories over the Warriors over the course of their current winning streak.
Own The Paint
Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic went to work immediately with their two-man pick-and-roll attack. The Warriors reshuffled lineup was slow to react, which resulted in high percentage looks for the Blazers. CJ McCollum netted eight points by keeping Quinn Cook on his toes. Golden State kept pace by getting to the free throw line, but they were clearly stunned by Portland’s intensity on both ends of the court. The Blazers finished the quarter ahead 33-27 thanks to an impressive 17-3 rebounding advantage.
KD Is All You Need
The Warriors were still trying to catch their breath as the second quarter began, and their shooting percentage suffered mightily as a result. McCollum continued his offensive onslaught, while Klay Thompson carried the torch for Golden State. Facing a double-digit deficit, the Warriors finally arose from their slumber to cut into the Blazers’ lead. Kevin Durant ignited a 11-2 run by getting to his spots and finding open teammates. Despite that, Portland escaped the half ahead 61-52 thanks to 7 free throws in the final 2 minutes.
Determined to get back into the game, the Warriors opened the third quarter with the same level of ferocity that they finished the second quarter with. Portland managed to keep their lead intact by hitting shots inside the arc, but Golden State’s perimeter attack was simply too much. Maurice Harkless did a superb job of contesting Durant’s outside looks, but the former MVP still put 13 points on the board in the third. With a little help from Draymond Green, the Warriors claimed the lead at the 4:35 mark. The Blazers didn’t play from behind for long, as Evan Turner’s 7 points in the final stages of the quarter put Portland ahead 87-83.
Shaun Livingston and Thompson started the fourth by using their size to their advantage on offense, and were able to bring the Warriors within two points by posting up smaller opposition. But Portland brought the attack from all angles. Ed Davis and Zach Collins provided a spark from the post positions, while Shabazz Napier and Turner used any section of open floor to their advantage on offense. The productivity of that quartet, plus 19 points from Lillard and McCollum, yielded the recipe for a victory. Durant only connected on one shot from the field in the fourth, which allowed the Blazers to cruise to a 125-108 win.
Control The Paint
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum may have combined for 58 points, but the Blazers won this game inside. Portland set the tone early by out-rebounding the Warriors in the first quarter, and earned the rebounding advantage at the contest’s conclusion, 46-33. It wasn’t just the guys inside, though; Portland’s perimeter players did a excellent job of corralling long rebounds.
The Blazers’ defensive intensity deserves the spotlight once again. Yes, Kevin Durant torched the twine, but he had to work for every shot. When Portland needed a run, they clamped down on the defensive end to set the tone. This has been a common theme over the last set of games, and it could pay major dividends in the postseason if it continues down the stretch.
Portland’s reserve scorers were huge tonight. The Blazers put four non-starters in double figures, while the Warriors leading bench scorer only had eight points. Portland easily won the second unit scoring battle 47-18.
Big Bad Bench
Ed Davis was phenomenal in the paint. The 28-year-old veteran provided bone-crushing screens and valuable second-chance points throughout the evening. Davis finished with 15 rebounds, 7 offensive, in 26 minutes of action.
Evan Turner supplied Portland with points when they needed them the most: in the third quarter. Don’t look now, but Turner has made 5 of his last 11 attempts from beyond the arc. He finished with 12 points and 3 assists, while maintaining a 0 in his turnover column.
Zach Collins continues to do big things in big moments. Along with snatching a crucial steal in the fourth, the rookie from Gonzaga scored 5 of his 12 points in the final period. Collins played 26 minutes and committed only 3 fouls, which probably contributed to Jusuf Nurkic remaining bench-bound the entire fourth quarter.
This wasn’t Shabazz Napier’s prettiest game of the season, but he was an effective scorer with 10 points in his 16 minutes of action.
Our friends at Golden State Of Mind will have a tough time blocking Ed Davis out of their minds tonight.
Since the Houston Rockets lost tonight, Portland now owns the longest active winning streak in the NBA at nine games.
The Blazers will get the weekend off before hosting the Miami Heat on Monday.
—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com