Blog: Season 1

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

Sportzball: Season 1

Warriors Waste 40-Point Effort from Kevin Durant, Lose 125-108

After beating the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night, the Golden State Warriors (51-14) flew up to Oregon to take on the Portland Trail Blazers (39-26). The Warriors would be without nearly half of their their roster. Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, David West, Jordan Bell, and Pat McCaw were all out, but the Warriors still had plenty of playmakers to work with. With a win, the Warriors would move back into the number one seed in the West, after the Houston Rockets lost to the Toronto Raptors earlier in the day, snapping their 17-game win streak. The Warriors were looking to extend their winning streak to eight games, and the Blazers were looking to extend their winning streak to nine games and further solidify their place in the third seed of the Western Conference. The Trail Blazers went on to win the game 125-108.

The first quarter started off relatively slowly, with the Warriors grinding to score points. They were moving the ball around nicely though. Durant had five points early, three of which came on a smooth catch-and-shoot three. Quinn Cook was also playing well early, and hit two mid-range jumpers. Klay Thompson hit a three to get himself started, and he joined Stephen Curry as one of the only two players to hit 200 threes in six consecutive seasons. Damian Lillard was rolling early for the Blazers, midway through the quarter he had five points, and three of those points came on a three from Curry range. The Blazers played really well on offense, but they were also really good on the boards. They outrebounded the Warriors 16-3, and they scored a lot of their points on second-chance opportunities. Kevin Durant was carrying the load offensively for the Warriors throughout the entire quarter, and he finished with 14 points. Klay Thompson and Quinn Cook were the next highest scorers with four points each. Damian Lillard ended the quarter with eight points, and his buddy in the backcourt, C.J. McCollum, had six points. As a team, the Blazers shot the ball much better than the Warriors. They shot the ball at a 56.5% clip, while the Warriors were at 44.4%. After the first quarter, the Trail Blazers led 33-27.

The second quarter began with the Trail Blazers feasting on the Warriors’ second unit. C.J. McCollum began to heat up, and by the time the first timeout of the quarter was called, he had 13 points. Ed Davis continued to dominate the Warriors on the glass, and midway through the quarter, he had eight rebounds. After approximately four minutes though, the Warriors offense began to get going. Klay Thompson began to heat up, and had 12 points after making two big threes. Nick Young also hit a deep three to grab momentum back from the Blazers. After the timeout, the Warriors were able to get the ball rolling even more so than they were before, and that was due to one of the best basketball players to have ever step foot on the Earth, Kevin Durant. He checked back in and hit mid-range jumper after mid-range jumper. He had 20 points with just over two minutes left in the quarter. Durant was doing much more than just scoring though, as he was running the offense on the break, as well as acting as the primary ball handler. As he got hot, that opened the lanes for guys like Draymond Green and Quinn Cook, who were able to score off of assists from Durant late in the quarter. The Blazers than were able to finish out the half playing very solid basketball on both ends of the court to re-establish their lead. Damian Lillard came back into the game and was able to draw several fouls in order to lead his team in scoring with 15 points. C.J. McCollum was right behind him with 13 points of his own. Kevin Durant led the Warriors with 22 points, and the next highest scorer was Klay with 12. The Warriors did a much better job in the second quarter of fighting for rebounds, and they outrebounded the Blazers 13-10, which was a big reason for their offensive run during the middle of the quarter. As a team, the Blazers were shooting 50% overall and 35% from three, while the Warriors were shooting 45.2% from the field and 42.9% from beyond the arc. At the half, the Blazers led the Warriors 61-52.

The third quarter started with the Warriors playing well all around. They were able to quickly make up the ground that they lost late in the first half. Klay Thompson got the scoring going with an impressive mid-range jumper on the baseline, and he was also doing a good job of creating his own shot and distributing the ball, finding JaVale for a nice flipshot at one point. Kevin Durant hit a three to get himself going again, and Draymond Green also hit a three to help keep the game close. The Blazers looked a little slow coming out of the half, and were running their offense through Jusuf Nurkic in the first couple minutes of the half. The Warriors kept rolling and went on a 7-0 run to take a lead for the first time since the opening quarter. They took the lead on a wide-open three from Kevin Durant that hit nothing but the bottom of the net. During the 7-0 run, the Warriors were running plays for JaVale McGee, who was the third Warrior player to get into double-digits in scoring. After that run through, the Blazers were able to climb back into the game thanks to some relatively poor play from the Warriors. The Warriors offense broke down and it became isoball for Kevin Durant, and then they cooled off. The Blazers took the lead when Damian Lillard took a running shot, which was tipped up by Draymond Green, and then the ball was layed in by Ed Davis, who continued to feast on the boards for the Blazers. Shaun Livingston then fouled Damian Lillard on a last-second three to give the Blazers three more points. Overall though, the Warriors played a very solid third quarter. As a team, they shot 46.9% from the field, and 43.5% from deep, while the Blazers were shooting 48.5% from the field and 29.6% from deep. Kevin Durant was the game’s leading scorer with 35 points, and the Blazers were led by Damian Lillard, who had 22 points. After the third quarter, the Blazers led the Warriors 87-83.

In the fourth quarter, the Blazers got off to a hot start thanks to some good shooting from Shabazz Napier, who nailed two threes, one of which became a four-point play. The Warriors were sloppy with the ball, and while they were able to score, they were unable to get a lot of momentum going for them. When the Warriors scored, it was from either the midrange or from the paint, but the Blazers were making threes. Shaun Livingston was the cause of the four-point play from Napier, but then proceeded to make three straight mid-range jumpers. The Warriors then continued to foul the Blazers’ jump shooters and turn the ball over in mind numbingly stupid ways, to continue to let the Blazers build a lead. With just over four minutes left in the quarter, the Blazers had a 10-point lead. Klay Thompson then buried a three to make it a seven-point game. KD then fouled McCollum on a mid-range jumper and he made both free throws to make it a nine-point game again. Klay Thompson then missed a two-point jumper and Damian Lillard drained a three on the other end to close the door on the Warriors. The Blazers won the game 125-108.

The Warriors played really well for the majority of the game, but several key stretches are what made the difference tonight. They allowed the Blazers to go on a run at the end of the second quarter and third quarter, and they did so by turning the ball over and by fouling players who were taking threes. Honestly, there is nothing I want to do less right now than recap this game. The Warriors made several dumb mistakes down the stretch, and that paved the way for the Blazers to get hot in the fourth quarter and win the game. This was a very frustrating game to watch for several reasons. The first of which was that the Warriors spoiled one of Kevin Durant’s best scoring efforts for the third time this season, and for the second consecutive time against the Trail Blazers. The Warriors bench was also just absolutely dreadful tonight, scoring a total of 18 points in 76 combined minutes. The Warriors also fouled several Blazers when they should not have, but hey, this was the second game of a back-to-back, the Warriors were missing half of their team, and the Blazers are now the hottest team in the NBA.

The Trail Blazers ended the game shooting 49.4% from the field, and that included shooting 41% from three. The Warriors shot the ball at a 48.7% and 42.9% from three. The Blazers were led by C.J. McCollum, who had 30 points, and Damian Lillard, who had 28 points. The Trail Blazers had seven players with at least 10 points, while the Warriors only had three of such players. The Warriors leading scorer was Kevin Durant, who had 40 points. Klay Thompson was the next highest scorer 25 points. A big reason for the Blazers win was that they outrebounded the Warriors, 46-33.

The Warriors still sit in second place in the West, despite the Houston Rockets losing to the Toronto. The Golden State Warriors are now 11-5 in games that Stephen Curry does not play.

The Warriors play next on Sunday, March 11, in Minnesota against the Timberwolves, at 12:30 p.m.