The reigning back-to-back champs promptly bounced back from an annoying loss to the Portland Trailblazers in Oakland, storming into the Moda Center and handing the Blazers a 115-105 payback. The Golden State Warriors flexed some of their trademark offensive swagger and defensive energy, led by Klay Thompson’s hot shooting and Draymond Green’s heady play.
Thompson broke out of his cold shooting streak, heating up for 32 points on 12-of-21 shooting, knocking down 4-of-5 from downtown. Draymond Green was a defensive force, swarming and communicating with his trademark ferocity. His 9 rebounds and 6 assists were important to the Golden State effort, and he led all players with a +27 plus/minus.
Thompson also ran around all night chasing Portland guard Damian Lillard, who uncorked 40 points with 6 made threes. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant both added 25 points each.
The Warriors decided to appease Dub Nation by actually paying attention during the first half. Four Warriors had double digit scoring at the half: Thompson had 17, Curry and Durant both had 14, and Kevon Looney added 10 of his own. Thompson got the party started with 3 triples and Looney added a three-pointer of his own, his first of the season. The Warriors lead ballooned to as much as 18 points in the first two quarters.
Klay starting to feel it again pic.twitter.com/PYuO9tKD1b— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) December 30, 2018
The Blazers were held to 40% shooting but ended the first half on a 14-4 run, aided by a few questionable calls that drew the ire of Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. Green drew a tech and Iguodala was ejected at halftime for throwing the ball into the crowd after the second quarter buzzer.
Andre ejected from the game because of this throw after the buzzer pic.twitter.com/KCcUvlvnCu— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) December 30, 2018
Warriors 58, Trailblazers 50
Oakland superhero Dame Lillard decided he didn’t want the Warriors to escape Portland without a fight. He added 20 points in the third frame, many of them coming on saucy, high-degree-of-difficulty streetball maneuvers that left the Warriors begrudgingly amazed. Except for this one, where the refs gave him a phantom foul.
The Dubs were not happy with this foul call pic.twitter.com/aFIzkJMUHX— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) December 30, 2018
And the Warriors still outscored them 35-33. A pair of Quinn Cook bombs to end the quarter ensured that Dubs advantage.
The bizarre calls continued against Golden State in the 4th as Curry nailed a three as Dame pushed him, but the refs called a foul on Lillard for jumping around a Jerebko screen, nullifying the 4-point play. I have literally never seen that call in that sequence before.
Neither team could score for the first three-minutes of a disjointed, but intense game. Eventually, the Warriors broke the dam with Shaun Livingston barbecuing Evan Turner for a post bucket, and Jonas Jerebko later drilling a trailing three on a fastbreak, pushing the score to 98-83.
The Blazers cut the deficit back down into single digits, but couldn’t bring the Warriors lead down into any real danger zone.
The Warriors finished the game shooting 40% from the field, drilled 12-of-25 three-pointers, and had 27 assists to only 12 turnovers. The champs also let the world get a sneak peak at what their defense looks like when are really locked in, which is impregnable. The Blazers were held to 42% shooting, and only made a ghastly 9-of-31 from beyond the arc.
Another one bites the dust, now we’re on to Phoenix on New Years Eve, another December game, yawn, can we get to All-Star break already?
I circled this game because I figured the Warriors would circle it, too, after recent events. And if they didn't play well, it'd be a different team than we've seen for 4 years.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) December 30, 2018
But guess what: It's the same team. Older, a little more vulnerable, but the same team.