No Stephen Curry. No Andre Iguodala. No David West. No Jordan Bell. No Patrick McCaw.
No problem. No, wait, problem.
This game was immediately a problem for the Golden State Warriors, who trailed by as much as 15 in the early going. And while it was a problem that they flirted with solving, they ultimately lost to the Portland Trail Blazers 125-108.
The Dubs started slow, as they couldn’t find rhythm in Curry’s absence. Worse yet, they couldn’t find the basketball, as they had a pathetic three rebounds in the first quarter.
But Kevin Durant was peak Kevin Durant, and that’s always a good thing.
Might be one of those nights for Kevin Durant. 12 Pts so far in the 1st quarter pic.twitter.com/ONY9hcTZTw— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 10, 2018
Durant - who had 50 in Golden State’s last game against Portland - seemingly couldn’t miss. He ended the night with 40 points on 12-21 shooting, and put the team on his back at times. But Golden State had just two other players in double figures: Klay Thompson with 23, and JaVale McGee with 10.
While the Dubs started to find rhythm in the second quarter, they still trailed by nine at the half. But in the third they started to put a run together. Quinn Cook - who started in place of Curry - got big minutes, and lots of trust from Steve Kerr. He ran the offense well, being aggressive, and getting the ball to Durant.
McGee and Kevon Looney were the only centers to play the second half, and both played decently, at least for some stretches. Not so much for others, as McGee had some costly fouls. But most importantly, the team started to click and trust each other.
What a play design out of the timeout by the Warriors pic.twitter.com/2xqyDYnxfx— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 10, 2018
And Durant kept going off, finally giving the Warriors the lead.
But the Blazers - fighting for playoff positioning - were unfazed. They ended the third on a huge run, and the Warriors had no answers.
Portland kept the run going in the fourth, and took an 11-point lead halfway through the final frame. Damian Lillard (28 points and 8 assists) and C.J. McCollum (30 points) were aggressive and brilliant, and seemed to have a million occurrences of being fouled while shooting threes.
That backcourt, mixed with Portland’s interior athleticism, was a little bit too much for the Warriors to handle, and they couldn’t recover from the fourth quarter deficit.
Golden State tried to get back in the game for a while, but simply didn’t have enough firepower, defense, or rebounds. In the final minutes the Blazers really opened things up, and ran away with this one. The score doesn’t really do it justice, as the game was close for most of it.
On to the next one.