The Portland Trailblazers raced out to an early lead, as Golden State opponents are wont to do, fueled by impossibly hot shooting and absurdly good luck. Absurd. Ridiculous. Stupid. Good luck. This was Jared recap night (we're like 3-3 this season, while the team was 48-4 overall at the break!!), so you should've known something was up.
And for just the fifth time this season, the invincible Warriors came crashing, crashing down.
All-Star snub Damian Lillard was transcendent, gunning 7-of-10 en route to 17 points in the first quarter alone (he would finish 18-of-28, and 9-of-12 from three, for a career-high 51 points). His splashy running mate, CJ McCollum, added 21 points and a plus-22 plus-minus. The Blazers, who led 42-31 after one, were firmly in control. And yet the defending Champion Golden State Warriors, who should be used to this sort of thing by now, slowly closed in on Portland - for a while, it looked like another typical Golden State victory by asphyxiation...albeit a close one.
Rip City lead by as many as 19 points midway through the second quarter, riding a wave of unsustainable 6-of-6 three point shooting. For some reason, Oakland seems to know something about that kind of shooting.
Golden State failed to make progress for much of the first half, as the second unit bricked or air balled just about everything in sight. But the defense eventually showed signs of life, earning several consecutive stops. After that, the buckets started to fall - basketball gods be praised. By the end of the second frame, the Warriors had righted the ship, with a halftime score of 68-62. After allowing 42 points in the first quarter, the Dubs slowed Portland down a bit, winning the second 31-26.
In the second half, the red hot Blazer shooting simply took off. The referees didn't help matters much, as Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut all picked up questionable fouls
for apparently no reason (what was it, a homecoming game?). A 6-point halftime lead gradually grew to 15, and then to 25 (and then to 37, unless I'm just drunk with rage and/or tequila). With the exception of Stephen Curry, the Warriors looked lost.
A brutal 13-turnover third quarter made a tight contest a bit of a joke (not a typo: 13 turnovers in one quarter!!). The 20-6 free throw disparity with two minutes remaining in the third (and the Blazers are every bit the "jump shooting team" that the Warriors are, mind you) was the proverbial salt in the wound. Before long, the Warriors were shrugging shoulders and shuffling off to the bench. Soon after, Ian Clark was subbing in for Stephen Curry. The day was lost.
And then Damian Lillard went all Stephen Curry on us.
It would be easy to admonish the Warriors' defense tonight, but there's no need to. They weren't good at all, but Lillard and CJ McCollum were just splendiferous. They deserve a tremendous amount of credit. They were absurd. Ridiculous. Stupid. The Trailblazers were simply magnificent tonight, and the Warriors better get used to it if they plan on breaking any records.
So this is what a loss to the Warriors feels like...