The Portland Trail Blazers couldn’t pull off their second win in a row against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night. They drubbed the Dubs on Friday, but a career-high 62 points from Stephen Curry kept the Blazers on their heels all evening. Damian Lillard scored 32 to give Portland a chance, while Enes Kanter played 24 minutes in reserve, scoring 24 points with 12 rebounds, but it just wasn’t enough to put the Blazers over the top.
The Warriors started the game in better form than Friday night, taking advantage of size to score inside and prevent Portland’s guards from doing same. Salt in a few extra rebounds and they were able to hang with Portland despite aggressive play from CJ McCollum. Blazers turnovers helped Golden State to a 17-2 mid-quarter run. Aggressiveness from Lillard and offensive rebounding by Kanter helped Portland re-close the gap. Poor defense from the second unit, including Kanter, allowed Curry to explode as the period waned. Portland led 36-33 after one.
Curry’s roll continued at an MVP pace in the second quarter. Nobody but Gary Trent, Jr. had a prayer of stopping him, or Golden State’s ball movement, and Trent only occasionally. The Warriors also got out into transition, courtesy of more Portland turnovers. The Warriors took over the lead behind Curry’s 31. Portland entered intermission down 66-54.
Things fell apart for Portland in the third. Curry kept blistering them like it was 2017. The Warriors looked somehow faster AND bigger than the Blazers, (Neither of which is really true.) The less said about the period, the better, except that Golden State built up a 20-point lead somewhere in there.
The transition minutes spanning the third and fourth quarters showed the duality of Kanter. He was big on the boards and scoring, but Golden State barbequed him on defense. Kanter stayed on the court for the rest of the game (over starter Jusuf Nurkic) and Portland lived with the joy and pain throughout.
Before that story could play out, Lillard stepped to the fore. He stared Curry in the eye and said, “Whatever you do, I’ll do twice over.” Dame began bombing from obnoxious range, connecting repeatedly. In less time that it takes you to say, “Holy Shirtballs!”, the 20-point lead was single digits. But Curry remained stubborn, giving up the deep shots for drives and free throws as he passed the 50-point mark.
In the end, Portland’s defense couldn’t live up to the offense. Curry was a never-ending fountain of points, draining more long-range looks as the clock dwindled. The Blazers shooters were good, but they missed occasionally. Speed and commitment for the Warriors beat size and...well...whatever Portland brought. The Blazers settled for a split by the Bay and will attempt to recoup momentum as they return home.
Stay tuned for an extended recap of the game, coming up a little later.
The Blazers have a chance to get back on track against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night at 7:30 PM, Pacific at the Moda Center.