Blog: Season 1

Jackson Williams, a sports enthusiast, writes about all things sports. 

Sportzball: Season 1

Damian Lillard Explodes for 44 points, Trail Blazers beat Warriors 123-117

After obliterating the Phoenix Suns on Monday night, the Golden State Warriors (44-13) flew up to Oregon to take on the Portland Trail Blazers (31-26). The Warriors would be looking to extend their winning streak to four games to make sure that they are hot heading into the All Star break. The Blazers were looking to bounce back after losing their last game. The Warriors would be without Pat McCaw, as he fractured his wrist and would be out for four weeks, but they would be getting Draymond Green back. This would be just the second meeting of these two teams this season, and in the first matchup, the Warriors won 111-104, so the Blazers would be looking to get revenge by beating the top dog in the NBA. The Blazers went on to win the game 123-117.

In the first quarter, the Trail Blazers got off to a blisteringly hot start, while the Warriors were not as good. The Warriors continued their habit of getting off to slow starts, and they were allowing the Blazers to get to the hoop at will, take and make open threes, and grab offensive rebounds whenever they wanted. They started off so hot that Steve Kerr had to call a timeout less than four minutes into the game. At the timeout, Damian Lillard was on fire, leading the Blazers with nine points while making two deep threes. The Blazers had a 16-8 lead. As the quarter continued, the Blazers were able to just say unbelievably hot from beyond the arc. With just over two minutes left in the quarter, the Blazers were 5/10 from beyond the arc, and were shooting 50% as a team. The Warriors didn’t make a three until there was just over a minute left in the quarter. The Warriors were playing atrocious basketball on both ends until the final minute of the quarter, in which they put up six points in the last 30 seconds of the game. As a team, the Warriors were shooting 44% from the field, but were an abysmal 12.5% from three. The team committed six turnovers, which put them on a troubling pace for the rest of the game. Durant led the Warriors with 14 points, while Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 18 points. Stephen Curry had a rough quarter, finishing with just two points on 1-6 shooting, and was missing badly, while also committing four of the teams’ six turnovers. After the first, the Blazers led the Warriors 40-27.

The Warriors came out of the gates in the second quarter with their guns blazing. Their second unit continued to show their ability to be able to right the ship, or be able to patch the leaks. Klay Thompson hit a three, and Shaun Livingston threw down a dunk to help the Warriors regain momentum as the Blazers had to call a quick timeout with eight minutes left in the quarter. After those first couple minutes though, the Blazers turned it back on. Damian Lillard stayed hot and finished the half with 20 points, and the next highest scorer for the Blazers was CJ McCollum. As a team, the Blazers were shooting 51% from the field, and were 7/18 from three. The Warriors were struggling to shoot the ball, and finished the half shooting 42.9% overall, and were still abysmal from three, shooting 20%. Kevin Durant was able to keep scoring though, and he was the main reason that the Warriors were as close as they were. He had 20 points at the half, the closest Warrior was Klay Thompson with seven points. Stephen Curry continued to struggle, finishing with just five points on 2-9 shooting. He did make his first three late in the quarter, so that was a good sign, but he still was responsible for four of the seven turnovers. Draymond Green had a decent quarter that included him throwing down a monster dunk to help try and turn the momentum in the Warriors favor. Late in the quarter, as KD and the Warriors were making a run, it looked like they were going to be able to grab the momentum heading into the half, but the Blazers were able to keep making plays to get to the hoop at will, and that is why the Blazers led at the half, 63-51.

The Warriors came out of the halftime break like they wanted to burn down the Moda Center with their shooting in the third quarter. Kevin Durant came out and was lighting it up from all over the court, and he had not one, but two four-point plays. By the time the Blazers finally called timeout with five minutes left in the quarter, he had 34 points on 12/17 shooting, and looked like a man on a mission. Steph also was able to get going after changing his shoes, scoring seven points to help compliment KD’s barrage. After the timeout, the Blazers were able to come back and reestablish their lead, and were aided by some really atrocious officiating from the refs. Stephen Curry got called for an offensive foul while he was shooting the ball with a defender draped all over him, as well as a foul on defense that nearly made him lose his mind. The Blazers went on a run during this time to build a six-point lead. After that last timeout, the two teams continued to trade baskets until the final buzzer sounded. Draymond Green hit a three in the last two minutes of the quarter, which was a sight for sore eyes. In the third quarter, there were some new rotations by Steve Kerr, who didn’t play Zaza at all, and took Steph out down the stretch. Steph was struggling and wa beginning to show his frustration though, so the move made sense. It also opened the door for him to come in the fourth quarter and play more than, instead of coming in at the six minute mark like normal. At the end of the third quarter, KD led all scorers with 38 points, and Damian Lillard was leading Portland with 35 points. Heading to the fourth, the Blazers led the Warriors 92-87.

The Blazers came out in the fourth quarter and continued to play their game and do work against the Warriors’ second unit. There was a five minute stretch where the Warriors did not make a shot, but then they were able to turn things around after a nice pull-up jumper from Shaun Livingston. He got things going for the Warriors, and it opened the door for Klay to add a quick five points before the Blazers had to call a timeout. When the timeout was called, the Warriors had cut the lead to just three points with eight minutes to play. After the timeout, the Warriors tied the game on a three from Stephen Curry, and the Blazers quickly un-tied the game and took a big lead again. This was in part due to the fact that Nick Young was brought back in despite not making a shot all game to that point, as well as some poor offense by the Warriors. The Blazers had a five-point lead with just under five minutes to go. After the timeout, Kevin Durant ignited to lead the Warriors back and cut the lead to just two points. He made two threes, one of which came when a ref fouled him. Damian Lillard was able to match him though. With less than a minute left, KD had 50 points and Lillard had 42. The Blazers were able to hang on and make their free throws to keep them ahead. The Warriors had several chances to win the game, but Klay missed an open three to take the lead, and Kevin Durant missed a wide-open midrange jumper to tie it. With the Blazers up four with less than a minute remaining, KD took and made a three, but his foot was on the line and he was ruled out of bounds, and that marked the end of the game. The Blazers hung on to win the game, 123-117.

The Blazers just simply outplayed the Warriors tonight. The Warriors were abysmal in the first quarter, and the Splash Brothers just couldn’t find their stroke all night long. Damian Lillard was simply incredible, finishing with 44 points on 14/25 shooting, while also dishing out eight assists. Kevin Durant did his absolute best to keep the Warriors in the game and get them out of Portland with a win, but the rest of his team couldn’t pick him up. He finished with his fifth-career 50 point game on 17/27 shooting, while also grabbing seven boards, dishing out six assists, and blocking two shots. The Blazers won this game because Lillard was aided by a great performance from the rest of his team, whereas KD was basically on his own aside from defensive help from Draymond, who played one of his best games in a while.

The Blazers finished the game shooting a combined 48.4% from the field, and they also shot 36.4% from deep (12/33). The Warriors shot 47.8% from the field, and shot 35.1% from deep. Like I said before though, this game came down to the supporting cast of Lillard and KD. Without Lillard’s 14/25 night, the Blazers shot 45.5%, whereas without KD’s 17/27, the Warriors shot 41.2%, and were just abysmal from deep.

Stephen Curry struggled all night long, finishing with 17 points on 6/17 shooting, and just clanked quite a few wide-open threes. Klay also wasn’t great, finishing with 17 on 6/15 shooting, and missed a potential game-winning three. Draymond Green had an incredible game on the defensive end though, blocking four shots and looking as energized as I’ve ever seen him in a regular-season game. He pretty good in all aspects of his game, finishing with 16 points on 6/13 shooting, while also grabbing 10 rebounds, dishing out seven assists, as well as stealing the ball twice, all on top of the four blocks he had on defense.

With this loss, their 14th of the year, the Warriors fell out of first place in the West, and now the Rockets have a .5 game lead. The Warriors head into the All Star break without being in first-place for the first time in the last four years. The Warriors needed the All Star break, the team has looked gassed for the last several weeks, because they have played damn-near 60 games at the break, which is an absurdly high number of games to be played before the All Star break, which is supposed to mark the halfway point of the season. By my calculations, 58 is not even close to being half of 82, but it is what it is. Hopefully the Warriors come out strong after the break due to some much needed time to relax and rest.

The Warriors play their next game on Thursday, February 22, at home against the Los Angeles Clippers at 7:30 p.m.