The road woes for Portland Trail Blazers continued Friday, as they fell to the red-hot Golden State Warriors 118-103. With the loss, the Blazers drop their record to a mediocre 10-10 one-fourth of the way through the season, earning an abysmal 1-9 record outside of the friendly confines of the Moda Center.
To add injury to insult, Norman Powell exited the game late in the third quarter with what appeared to be a right knee injury. He did not return.
Stephen Curry had a game-high 32 points, out-dueling Damian Lillard, who posted 16 points on 5-15 shooting.
Portland came out of the gates looking as though they had just feasted on Thanksgiving leftovers: slow and a step behind the energetic Warriors. Golden State outworked the Blazers and built an early advantage behind a hot shooting start from Andrew Wiggins, who had 7 points in the quarter.
Portland countered by feeding the beast down low, dumping the ball to Jusuf Nurkic, who towered over the Warriors’ defenders. Nurkic banged his way to 7 points in the period. The Blazers were able to claw themselves back into the game as Golden State’s hot shooting began to cool off. Portland managed to work off the meat sweats enough to break nearly even, trailing 27-26 after one.
The Blazers’ bench unit struggled to carry the momentum into the second quarter. Anfernee Simons, who made his return after missing a game due to illness, was a black hole in his 11 first half minutes. He went 0-3 from the field on questionable attempts at best, carelessly turning over the ball over twice. The Warriors built up an 8-point lead before the Portland starters returned and restored a bit of order, at least briefly.
CJ McCollum and Norman Powell fueled a gritty Blazer run that nearly leveled the contest again. This might have been the only time Portland displayed a willingness to out-hustle Golden State at both ends, but they inevitably ran into a Curry-shaped wall.
Curry took a while to get going, but he came alive down the stretch. The Blazers didn’t do much to keep the bullseye shooter from getting to his spots and he made them pay. Two dagger threes in the final minutes did Portland in. All of a sudden they were trailing by double-digits. The Warriors led 58-44 heading into the break.
The third quarter started with a pair of technical free throws for Golden State, courtesy of Portland assistant coach Scott Brooks getting himself tossed at the end of the first half. Things didn’t get any better from there. The Warriors continued to score at will as the Blazers’ defense offered little resistance. Wiggins and Jordan Poole were allowed to waltz to the rim with impunity and quickly ballooned the deficit to 20+ points.
The only bright spots came from Nurkic, who continued to play the part of schoolyard bully in the paint, and Norman Powell, who seemed to be the only guard willing to put his head down and fight his way to the bucket. The two combined for 18 third quarter points and kept the game from devolving into a total laugher.
That optimism was quickly exterminated after Powell’s exit late in the quarter. Powell seemed to come down awkwardly after being fouled by Draymond Green. He remained on the floor long enough to take two free throws, but went straight to locker room after.
Golden State took a commanding 91-70 lead into the final frame.
To their credit, the Blazers’ second unit made garbage time interesting. Even though he struggled during his first stint, Simons was brilliant when called upon late. For a brief moment, he looked like a Splash Brother on the court, draining 5 treys on his way to 19 points. That kept the starters’ nights on both sides going a little bit longer. It also ended up being a team-high.
Portland pulled as close as 8 points on multiple occasions, but couldn’t fully turn the corner. The Warriors were able to keep the Blazers at bay (ahem), and eventually pulled the game out of reach yet again.
Stay tuned for the extended analysis of tonight’s game.
The Blazers will get the weekend off before heading to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Jazz Monday evening at 6 pm Pacific.