In their fourth and final match-up of the season, the Portland Trailblazers gave the Golden State Warriors all they could handle. Yet even with the two-time reigning MVP Stephen Curry sidelined due to illness, the road Warriors had just enough to put Rip City away. Barely.
The Dubs were uneven, to be kind. They didn’t appear to miss their star point guard much while they were up 21 points in the second quarter. But they squandered that lead in the closing minutes of the half, as Kevin Durant reverted to “hero ball,” settling for one and no-pass possessions.
Things got even dicier in the fourth quarter, as an unlikely offensive foul call, and a defensive error, gave Portland a wide-as-funk open three point attempt to win the game at the buzzer. But fortunately for the Warriors, Evan Turner’s attempt bounced off iron.
Golden State was certainly not itself without Stephen Curry at the point, as the team shot just 45.6% from the field and 8-of-26 from three point range. However, the team got welcome contributions from Zaza Pachulia, Andre Iguodala and Patrick McCaw.
Pachulia and Iguodala made big plays down the stretch, with a combined six steals against just one turnover. However, their big performance was almost wasted, as primary ball handlers Durant and Draymond Green coughed up seven turnovers each.
Get well soon, Steph.
Turnovers aside, Durant was a monster down the stretch, as per usual. He carried the Warriors offense in the fourth quarter with a number of clutch jump shots and layups. But the Trailblazers, and C.J. McCollum in particular, kept it close throughout and even had an opportunity to win it late. Even with Curry missing, a team theoretically shouldn’t need three all-stars to beat a lottery team. But the Warriors have real offensive problems without their starting point guard, underscoring his importance to the team.
The Warriors enter a soft stretch in the schedule, with just four games over the next 11 days. They’re back in action Wednesday night, to host the Charlotte Hornets (who will be playing the Blazers themselves on Tuesday).
Other things to blurt out
- Zaza Pachulia was at his best tonight. He took 10 free throws, registered four steals and earned the best plus-minus score on the Warriors (plus-12).
- Even if he got some of them in the late game foul-fest, shout out to Klay Thompson for getting to the line 15 times. That’s got to be a record for him. That ugly 6-of-21 performance looks much more palatable with 27 points behind it.
- C.J. McCollum, like Damian Lillard a year ago, is really making a living off of killing the Warriors. The young guard looked like an all-star tonight with 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting and at least a couple dribble drive dekes and drop-back jumpers we’ve never seen before.