The Portland Trail Blazers fell 127-118 to the Golden State Warriors on Monday night, giving the injury-depleted ‘Dubs their first win in Chase Center, their shiny new arena across the bay from the old home.
Like it or not, this game will go down in the history books. Playing without virtually any of their key players, the Warriors displayed an energy that was simply unmatched by the Blazers. Rookie Eric Paschall led the way, going off for a career-high 36 points and 13 rebounds. Damian Lillard led all scorers with 39 points, but got little help from his teammates.
The Warriors got off to a solid start, jumping out to a 14-7 lead in the first four minutes and trailing for just 10 seconds in the period. Paschall, one of three rookies in their starting lineup, paced the offense with 17 points, going 6-7 from the field and 3-3 from distance. The Blazers made a concerted effort to get Hassan Whiteside involved, as the big man scored nine points on 4-4 shooting. The Warriors led 34-32 at the horn, with both teams shooting over 60% from the field in the quarter.
The Blazers were more active defensively in the second, but still found themselves playing from behind for much of the quarter, with the Warriors seemingly having an answer for every potential rally. The teams went back-and-forth over the final few minutes of the half, with the Blazers holding a 63-60 lead at the break. Lillard led the way with 17 points through the first 24 minutes of action.
It was the Warriors who came out energized to start the second half, playing with a swagger you’d expect from the likes of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. [ed. None of them suited up.] They were aggressive and loose, while the Blazers looked a step slow and tight. While it felt like the margin was much wider, the Blazers trailed by only four entering the fourth, thanks to some late heroics from Lillard.
Portland came out with some fight to start the game’s final stanza, battling back to tie the game. With about nine minutes remaining, Warriors rookie Jordan Poole—who was seen exchanging words with Lillard at the end of the first half—was whistled for a technical foul after some prolonged trash-talking aimed at Rodney Hood, seemingly lighting a spark under the Blazers. The energy increased but the shots weren’t falling; the Blazers missed nine straight down the stretch. Tensions boiled over with a mild skirmish between Whiteside and Ky Bowman, and it was all Warriors from there.
The Kids Are Alright
As disappointing as this loss is for the Blazers, you have to give the Warriors a ton of credit, as they clearly wanted this game more. While Paschall, a second-round pick, put forth a tremendous effort, he was hardly alone. Bowman, currently on a two-way contract, went for 19 points and eight assists, orchestrating the offense and bringing a relentless energy to the table. All nine Warriors that played hit at least two shots. Damion Lee provided 16 big points off the bench, while veteran Alec Burks added 13.
One Man Show
Lillard had a solid night, but got little to no help. He pretty much single-handedly kept the team in it until the final minutes, finishing 15-26 from the field. His backcourt mate, CJ McCollum was just 6-16 shooting, and while Whiteside dropped 22 points and 11 rebounds, he struggled mightily on defense and seemed to play with an effort that would make Joe Barry Carroll proud.
Supporting Cast MIA
Hood, playing despite the injury suffered on Saturday night, could never find a rhythm, going 1-8 from the field in 36 minutes. He wasn’t alone. Anthony Tolliver’s struggles continued as he went just 1-5, while Kent Bazemore was 3-10, including a disastrous 1-6 from beyond the arc.
Aside from Lillard, one of the only bright spots was Anfernee Simons, who had 14 points in 19 minutes, and was one of the few Blazers who could match the energy of the young Warriors.
The Blazers (3-4) head south for a tilt with the new-look Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night in a nationally-televised game.