PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The key to the Portland Trail Blazers’ nine-game winning streak starts behind the scenes.
“I think we’ve done a great job of being sharp in practices and when we go in the film room, we’ve been taking our game seriously – not that we haven’t all season, but I think lately it’s just a different level of focus. It’s more intense,” Damian Lillard said.
The ninth win came on Friday night with a 125-108 victory over the Golden State Warriors. CJ McCollum scored 30 points and Lillard added 28.
Portland has its longest winning streak since also winning nine straight in 2014. The Blazers’ streak started when they beat Golden State 123-117 at the Moda Center on Feb. 14, the last game before the All-Star break.
The streak has propelled Portland into third place in the Western Conference, 11 1/2 games back of the Warriors, who are a half-game back of the first-place Houston Rockets.
“What streak?” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “We’re just playing games, we’re just trying to get wins.”
McCollum hit a 3-pointer to give the Blazers a 101-93 lead with 7:20 left. He added another 3 before Durant got one. Klay Thompson made a layup but Lillard answered with another 3 to make it 107-98.
Another 3-pointer by Lillard extended Portland’s lead to 115-103 with 2:40 to go and the Warriors could not catch up. There were seven Blazers in double figures.
“We fought hard. I really liked our fight and our competitive spirit but we’ve got to be smarter. We just did not play a smart, focused game tonight and it cost us,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
Curry rolled his right ankle in the first quarter of the Warriors’ 110-107 victory at home over San Antonio on Thursday night.
He missed 11 games in December with the sprained right ankle and injured it again last Friday at Atlanta. He did not travel to Portland and Quinn Cook started in his place.
Bell, who sprained his right ankle Tuesday against Brooklyn, will be out through the weekend and re-evaluated Tuesday. Iguodala was out with a left wrist sprain for the second straight game.
Portland saw the return of Maurice Harkless, who missed three games with a left knee injury.
Portland led 33-27 at the end of the first quarter, after Draymond Green‘s dunk didn’t quite make it by the buzzer.
Portland went on an 8-0 run to push the lead to 41-27, but Golden State got within 52-50 on Kevon Looney‘s follow shot. Portland led 61-52 at the half. Durant led all players with 22 points while Lillard had 15.
Durant’s 3-pointer and a jumper gave Golden State a 77-73 lead with 4:01 left in the third. Portland re-took the lead on Ed Davis‘ tip-in and a trio of free throws from Lillard to make it 87-83 going into the final period.
“They hit shots,” Durant said. “They’ve been making shots on this run they’re on for a while. I thought we did a good job making them take some tough ones, but they made them.”
Security at the Moda Center ejected a fan in a courtside seat who exchanged words with Durant late in the second quarter.
“When you’re sitting courtside you kind of think you’re Teflon – you can say or do whatever – but the ref caught him,” Durant said. “Before I could even get over there the ref said he was throwing him out of the game.”