Warriors Chase Down Trail Blazers for Huge Win

Tangled in a 10-team battle royal to qualify for the 2023 NBA playoffs, the Portland Trail Blazers desperately needed a Tuesday night win over the Golden State Warriors to back up their Sunday win over the Houston Rockets. For two quarters it looked like they would get it. Behind Damian Lillard’s incredible scoring and assists, the Blazers built a 23-point lead in the first half, saving 17 before intermission. But a devastating Warriors third quarter erased, then reversed, Portland’s advantage, leading to a hard-fought fourth.

Unfortunately, the Blazers have proven to be both tired and understaffed in this latter period. A box-and-one defense against Lillard kept him from getting shot. His teammates were unable to produce any runs outside the foul line. The cumulative effect produced a 123-105 Warriors victory, disappointing given Portland’s place in the standings and the hypothetical ease of winning a game you lead by two dozen points.

Lillard scored 25 in the loss, shooting 9-21 from the field. Jerami Grant added 24, thanks to 13-15 shots from the foul line. Matisse Thybulle shot 5-6 from the three-point arc. Jordan Poole led the Warriors with 29 and Klay Thompson added 23.

first quarter

The Warriors must have read Sunday night’s headlines, as they started the double-team game with Lillard as if he was the only player on the field. Queen passes seemed ridiculously easy under these circumstances. He found Mattise Thybulle for a straight three, along with Drew Eubanks passing to Thybulle and Cam Reddish for two more, giving Lillard the hockey assist.

Those triples put the Blazers up 11-4. But Golden State got its own three-point strikes from Jordan Poole, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, closing the gap quickly. Eubanks remained a terror on the attacking glass, as Thybulle forced a pair of turnovers at the other end. It was a cobbled-together approach, but usable.

For all the Warriors tried, their defense just wasn’t up to the task early on. Lillard beat a soft double team for a three, then Nassir Little whistled from the corner of the coffin, completely defenseless in the same spot Thybulle had splashed before.

But these are the Trail Blazers. Criticizing someone else’s defense is like criticizing cheesy yogurt for being greasy. The Warriors also continued to hit deep, keeping them close even as Lillard scored again on a drive.

Portland rebounded well and forced turnovers, in the middle of the minutes. Then Lillard started getting downright hot with the exponentially expanded lead.

When Lillard sat down, Little became even more active on offense, keeping his team comfortably up front despite Golden State suddenly finding they could score on the inside. The Warriors turned the tide on the rebound late, beating the Blazers’ smaller bench with offensive boards.

Undoubtedly, the scales weighed on Portland’s side in the first. 15 points from a HEAVILY-GUARDED Lillard, a 6-12 three-point shot and a fine score from the bench staked them to an impressive 41-27 lead.

second quarter

During the break between the first and second periods, the Popeye Warriors ate their spinach. Without Lillard on the ground, their defensive task just got a little easier. They reacted by increasing the intensity, staying ahead of the pilots, closing in on the shooters, and banging the big guys under the glass. They closed the single-digit lead almost immediately.

Head coach Chauncey Billups didn’t let Lillard rest for long. As soon as the Warriors threatened, The Letter 0 returned to the field. He bent the defense so severely that Jerami Grant and Shaedon Sharpe got instant buckets, even though both had missed their previous better-defended attempts just before. Golden State continued to push the ball inside, but their slower scoring was easy for Portland to match. The Blazers remained vigilant at the arc. As long as they kept that and didn’t let Golden State get offensive boards, they easily held the opponent at bay.

Green went to the locker room with a sore wrist minutes into the period. It took the starch out of Golden State’s already permissive defense. Jerami Grant smelled blood in the water and started to attack hard, shooting half a dozen free throw attempts. Green would come back with 5:20 remaining, but Portland had a 54-36 lead at the time.

The Warriors’ shooting and ball handling didn’t improve in the final minutes of the second. Turnovers and bricks gave them no traction to close the scoreboard gap. The Blazers led 65-48 at halftime.

Third quarter

The Warriors are many things, but “folish” is not one of them. Coming out of the locker room after half-time, they made a clear commitment to attacking the lane, not with slower post attempts, but out of fast dribbling. The Blazers struggled to compensate because… Portland. Six easy lay-ups in under five minutes started the attack for the Bay Boys. When Lillard committed a semi-silly foul on Jordan Poole by shooting a three with 6:30 remaining (Poole was 1-5 away at that point), the Warriors cut the lead back to single digits, 74-65. . A Poole layup one possession later would give Golden State a 13-2 run in the first 6 minutes.

That wasn’t all either. After an offensive rebound, Poole hit a three, reducing the lead to 4. Then he fouled Dame again, his fourth, with 5:00 remaining in the third.

Portland’s offense hasn’t been stellar during this streak. They only made one of their first 9 three-point shots in the period. They also missed most of their attempts from mid-range and an astonishing 66% of their shots into the lane. Add in some turnovers and you can see why Golden State’s increased offense brought them back almost all the way. Shaedon Sharpe tried to offend but got stuck on Thompson at the other end, a serious mismatch for the rookie. When Klay hit a three with 1:40 remaining, Golden State had the lead, 79-78.

Jonathan Kuminga making the Blazers silly in the paint didn’t help.

When the dust settled, the Warriors had scored 22 points in the paint in the third period alone and were leading 87-82 going into the fourth.

Up 5 at the end of three doesn’t seem so remarkable until you consider Golden State was down 17 to start the period.

Fourth trimester

Jerami Grant came to life early in the fourth, hitting a shot and two free throws in quick succession. But Jordan Poole matched it with a three and a chippy himself. With the Warriors up high, instead of down, every three-pointer they hit looked devastating. Likewise, Portland’s turnovers. The Blazers endured both as they struggled to recover.

However, that whole pesky “dots in the paint” thing was never solved. Ultimately, this spelled the end for the Blazers. Even when they could score — and they rarely did comfortably — they found Golden State returning the favor quickly and easily.

A big part of the Warriors’ success has been bottling a tiring Lillard. Dame attempted just one shot in the first 6 minutes of the period, a streak that saw them trail 104-93. Grant’s free throws were the only reliable source of scoring, and it just wasn’t good enough.


Stay tuned for an in-depth analysis ahead!

The score of the box

The Blazers turn around to face the New Orleans Pelicans tomorrow night at home with a 7:00 p.m. start.

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