Portland is going to look back on this as a game — maybe THE road game — they should have won.
However, the history books will record this as another game where the Warriors were dominant in the third quarter, got 61 points from the Splash Brothers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, had Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala playing great defense, and the champions just made more plays down the stretch and won. As they have done so many times before.
Golden State held on for a dramatic 114-111 win that has them in command of the series up 2-0 heading to Portland for Game 3 Saturday.
“We stole that game,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said afterward. “I thought they outplayed us for much of the night, the majority of the night, but we brought enough competitive fire to overcome their great play.”
Curry carried the Warriors offense for stretches of the night and finished with 37 points, although hitting just 4-of-14 from three. Thompson had 24 points, while Green had 16 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, and had his best game of these playoffs.
Portland was in control through much of the first half. Part of that was the Warriors returning to their sloppy ways with the ball — Golden State had 10 first-half turnovers leading to 18 Portland points — and showing a lack of intensity on defense.
However, the lead was more about what Portland did right, starting with shooting 11-of-22 from three in the first half. CJ McCollum had 16 points, Damian Lillard played within himself and handled the trapping defense with six assists and zero turnovers, and they had strong bench play with seven points each from Seth Curry (who also had a steal from his brother) and Rodney Hood.
More importantly, in the first half — and largely through the game — Portland cleaned up the defensive issues that were so glaring in Game 1. Bigs came out a little higher to contest Curry and Thompson, but also guys did better getting over screens to challenge.
In the third quarter, the Warriors came out taking the game more seriously, cranking up their defensive intensity, being much more aggressive with their traps. In particular, the Warriors locked in on Lillard, who had been both a playmaker and a scorer, and made his life more difficult. Green and Kevon Looney owned that end of the court. The defense sparked a 13-0 run and the Warriors briefly retook the lead, although it was tied after three.
The fourth was back-and-forth, but the Trail Blazers had a six-point lead in the final minutes.
Then the Warriors, as they do, found another level of intensity.
“We’ve done this before, I think our experience helped us,” Kerr said.
That new level of play was just enough. And a little too much for Portland.