The Trail Blazers secured a two-game winning streak after dispatching the Warriors 122-112 on Wednesday. Both squads are injury depleted, but Damian Lillard’s steady work on the offensive end lifted Portland above the fray. The Blazers’ leading man recorded 13 assists, matching a season high, to go along with 31 points. Lillard’s big night was accompanied by 30 points from CJ McCollum and 23 rebounds from Hassan Whiteside. For the Warriors, D’Angelo Russell kept Golden State within striking distance with 26 points and seven assists.
Here is a second look at Lillard’s stellar outing in the Blazers’ 122-112 win.
Glenn Robinson III put together a string of three-point conversions to build an early advantage for the Warriors. Buoyed by downhill attacks from Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, the Blazers unlocked the Dubs’ defense, unleashing a 7-0 run. Portland continued their efficient attack by finding open shooters, leading to an eye-popping 65 percent shooting mark from the field in the first quarter.
Unlike the first matchup against the Warriors, the Blazers finished with decisive leads in rebounding and free throws after the first quarter. Portland completed the first frame with a 40-to-29 scoring advantage.
Utilizing the same rebounding advantage from the first quarter, the Blazers protected their double-digit lead through the early portion of the quarter. Golden State managed to stall Portland’s momentum with riskier defensive pressure and increased pace. Lillard, who was electric in the first quarter, endured the brunt of the Warriors’ revamped aggression. The Warriors blitzed Lillard in halfcourt sets once he returned to the game. The result wasn’t pretty, leading to opportunistic points in transition for Golden State.
Due to a late-quarter momentum swing, the Warriors clawed back within a single point prior to halftime. The Blazers headed to the locker room with a slim 67-66 lead.
To combat the Warriors’ preference for pace, the Blazers’ offense focused on breaking down defenders in space. Carmelo Anthony and McCollum were the biggest benefactors from this shift. Both players routinely found success in the midrange with well-timed dribbles and crafty movements.
Golden State’s aggressive defense returned to its first-quarter form, but coach Steve Kerr’s squad still found a way to compensate for the lack turnover-induced chances. Eric Paschall, alongside a handful of veterans, looked to attack the paint. Working against Anthony Tolliver, Paschall converted a pair of drives into finishes at the rim. Portland’s flirtation with a zone scheme compounded the issues created by the Warriors’ drive-first emphasis.
The Blazers finished the third quarter ahead 97-92.
Portland’s bend-but-don’t-break defense was on full display in the final frame. Whiteside was a one-man rebounding machine, limiting the Warriors’ ability to generate second-chance points. Caught flat-footed in the second quarter, Lillard connected on passes out of double teams, opening up the floor for high percentage looks. Russell did his best to keep Golden State within striking distance, and finished the fourth with eight of the Warriors 20 points in the quarter.
It wasn’t a perfect final period, but the Blazers prevented the Warriors from putting together a lengthy scoring run. Portland held off Golden State in the final two minutes, securing a 122-112 win.
Setting the Table
Lillard produced a masterful performance. His blend of aggressiveness and willingness to pass tied the Warriors in knots. A few more three-point conversions from open shooters could have boosted Lillard’s season-high 13 assists to an even higher number. Sure, it was against an injury-depleted Warriors squad. Even with that in mind, it was encouraging to see Lillard work through pressure to find teammates that did their part to space the floor.
Chairman of the Boards
Whiteside notched 23 rebounds and helped the Blazers control the pace in crucial moments. His gravity in the middle allowed both Bazemore and Melo to operate in their comfort zones. Along with his work on the glass, Whiteside notched two blocks and connected on eight of his 14 field goals.
Despite those numbers, Whiteside nearly unraveled Portland’s three-possession lead with just over 1:30 left in the fourth quarter. Early in the shot clock, Whiteside decided to unleash an 18-foot shot. The questionable judgement was mitigated by the two points that the attempt generated. Whiteside wasn’t finished. Following the conversion, the former Heat big man failed to get back on defense due to a prolonged celebration. The result: an uncontested dunk from Paschall that triggered a Blazers’ timeout.
The Blazers return to action on Friday to host the Magic.