“You can’t let your guard down,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “You have to fight the temptation to be full of yourself and just go out and compete because we’re winning games because we’re playing hard, playing together, doing the right things.”
The Trail Blazers nearly succumbed to complacency Sunday afternoon by giving up a 17-point fourth quarter lead and being pushed to overtime before finally coming away with a 118-110 victory against the Raptors in Toronto.
“These are the type of games that we need to win,” said Stotts. “It would have been easy to go the other way. Got a game tomorrow night and we let it slip away and they got the momentum. I just said, ‘If we’re going to be the team we need to be, we’ve got to win these games.’ They played well.”
The victory, Portland’s sixth-straight, moves the Trail Blazers to 8-2, which is their best start through ten games since going 9-1 to start the 1999-2000 season. Sunday afternoon’s win also ensures they will finish their first Eastern Conference road trip no worse than .500, though they already have their heights set higher than that.
“Winning the first two, not only does that give you confidence but that makes you want to get greedy,” said Damian Lillard “We felt like coming in, all four are winnable games and now that we came and stole two, we’ve got our confidence up. Why not get another one?”
Portland was once again unable to avoid an unnecessarily harrowing end to what could have been a comfortable victory. Toronto cut the lead to 102-100 with under a minute to play in regulation after Landry Fields collected a rebound of a missed free throw by DeMar DeRozan, who finished the possession with an easy dunk. Aldridge would miss a jumper on the other end, leading to a DeRozen drive to the rim for what looked like a game-tying bucket, but Mo Williams tied up DeRozen on the drive to force a jump ball.
Toronto controlled the jump ball and called a timeout with 4.3 seconds to play, setting up an isolation play for Rudy Gay. Gay’s drive with Nicolas Batum defending ended with a layup that found the mark as time expired, sending the contest into overtime.
“I know he wants to go right,” said Batum. “That’s on me. I was very, very mad at myself about that game.”
Gay, who finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds, scored five-straight points in the overtime period, whipping the Air Canada Centre crowd into a frenzy and putting the Raptors up 107-104 with 2:51 to play. On the ensuring possession it looked as if the Trail Blazers might commit a 24-second clock violation, but with time winding down, Damian Lillard pulled up from 28 feet and nailed a three-pointer to tie the game at 107-107. Portland would never trail from that point on.
“We have a lot of guys, that could have been anybody,” said Lillard of the shot. “I’m just happened to be in the situation to make a play. The three, we were down three, the shot clock was running down and I knew I needed to raise up. I am just happy it went in.”
Lillard and Batum would combine for 13 of Portland’s 16 points in overtime, with both players hitting timely three-pointers to help the Trail Blazers win their first overtime game of the season.
“I was really just trying to get guys going then I made my first shot and missed some shots,” said Lillard, who overcame a slow start to finish with 25 points, eight assists and five rebounds. “I knew that it would come along and once it got down the stretch I forgot about rest of the game. I was going to attack and try and make plays regardless. I was able to hit some shots and find some guys with some passes.”
Lillard wasn’t the only Trail Blazer who could say that Sunday afternoon. Aldridge also scored 25 points and added 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Batum finished with 24 points, six rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal. Mo Williams had yet another efficient outing with 13 points, seven assists and five rebounds and Wesley Matthews once again shot the lights out in the first half, scoring 16 of his 17 points before the intermission while going four of five from the three-point line.
“I think it keeps teams off balance, having so many guys that can get hot during any game,” said Aldridge. “I thought tonight they tried to key in on me early so Wes got going and they kind of loosen up. Then I got going. Second half, Nic got going, then Dame. It keeps teams off balance.”
Portland once again utilized the three-point shot to overcome a lack of interior scoring. Portland outscored Toronto 45-9 from the three-point line, combating a 62-28 points in the paint deficit, which was exacerbated by both Robin Lopez and Joel Freeland experiencing foul trouble.
“We are who we are,” said Stotts of the discrepancies. “I was disappointed to give up 62 points in the paint, especially 30 in the first half. From a defensive standpoint it concerns me because we have to get better at that, but we have to play our style of game. Thirty-two three’s in an overtime game, that’s about right.”
The Trail Blazers now travel back to the United States for a game against the Nets in Brooklyn on Monday. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 PM.
Greetings from San Fransisco. After the Trail Blazers lost 118-106 to the Warriors in Game One of their Western Conference semifinal series, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net/TrailBlazers.com, grabbed a couple mics to record the first second round edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which is now available for your afternoon listening…
On this edition, we discuss Sunday afternoon’s loss, Portland’s tough start and whether there’s anything positive to be taken from the last three quarters, dealing with Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, the eventual return of Stephen Curry and if there any similarities between Sunday’s game and Game One versus the Clippers. We also answer a host of questions about Allen Crabbe, the enthusiasm at Oracle Arena, the quick turnaround from Game Six to the second Game One and give some tips on packing for regular business travel. And we also start the show off with some bad Mike Meyers impersonations. Sorry about that.
Even at full strength, the Trail Blazers were having a hard time keeping up with the Golden State Warriors in the first game of their second round, best-of-seven playoff series. But that task got significantly harder after reserve guard Gerald Henderson, who is averaging 7.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in the 2016 postseason, was ejected after a series of altercations with Warriors center Anderson Varejao that occurred late in the third quarter of Portland’s 118-106 loss Sunday night at Oracle Arena.
The first incident took place at the 3:29 mark of the third. Henderson and Varejao collided during the run of play, sending Varejao tumbling to the floor. As he was falling, he seemed to extend his leg out in an effort to trip Henderson, which ultimately proved successful. Henderson immediately got off the floor and into Varejao’s face, prompting the officials to call assess technicals to both players.
“I bumped him — not on purpose — he tripped me on purpose,” said Henderson. “I fell hard, I didn’t like it, so came together, that’s what happens.”
But that wouldn’t be the end of the tete-a-tete between Henderson and Varejao. Though Varejao was on the bench, that didn’t stop him and Henderson from continuing their less than cordial discussion, which the officials apparently noticed, as both players were once again awarded technicals, resulting in double ejections.
“The ref threw me out from across the way. I guess he could hear what I was saying from across the court,” said Henderson. “We were talking since the first technicals happened, but there’s a lot of talking going on out there. For both of us to get kicked out of the game, it was surprising.”
Despite the tense moments, Henderson said postgame that there was no lingering animosity while noting that he was more mad at himself than at Varejao.
“I been put it behind me,” said Henderson, who finished with five points and three assists in just under 17 minutes. “We lost the game, that’s the only thing that matters. I was pissed I got thrown out, we still had a chance to win the game. I got ejected, I’ve got to be smarter, regardless of if I thought I should have got kicked out or not.”
OAKLAND — The Portland Trail Blazers had roughly 36 hours to prepare for Game One of their Western Conference Semifinals matchup versus the Golden State Warriors after eliminating the Clippers in Game Six at the Moda Center on Friday night. There was only so much film they could watch, only so many Warriors-specific plays they could learn before a 12:30 pm tipoff Sunday afternoon in Oakland.
That was a reality reflected in Portland’s performance to start the game, as they made just five field goals and trailed by as many as 20 in the first quarter before going on to lose 118-106 to the top-seeded Warriors in front of a sellout crowd of 19,596 at Oracle Arena.
“Certainly wasn’t the start we wanted,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “It was disappointing to get off to such a poor start. Our offense, we had trouble scoring. Their defense got into us. It was just — we struggled at both ends, and probably more so on the offensive end, which fed into their defense. They had second chance point, they had fast-break points. It was a little bit of everything.”
The Warriors now lead the series 1-0 with Game Two scheduled for Tuesday.
“To start the game, we played like a team playing it’s second game in 30 hours,” said CJ McCollum. “We can’t start like that, especially here.”
The good news is the Trail Blazers improved as the game went on. Portland shot 52 percent from the field an 67 percent from three in the second quarter, utilizing small lineups that featured Maurice Harkless at “center” to eventually outscore Golden State 34-28 in the quarter. The Trail Blazers managed to cut the Warriors’ lead to single digits on numerous occasions before the half but were never able to keep the deficit in check for more than a possession or two, allowing the home team to take a 14-point lead into the intermission.
The Warriors, playing without reigning MVP Stephen Curry, who is sidelined with a sprained right MCL, would reestablish their dominance in the third quarter, holding Portland to 9-of-27 shooting from the field and a particularly stingy 1-of-8 from three. Between their defense and shooting 50 percent from both the field and three in the quarter, Golden State took a 26-point lead, their largest of the night, before heading into the fourth up 93-73.
Portland was able to give the final score an air of respectability by outscoring Golden State 33-25 in the fourth, but never realistically threatened the defending champs before the final buzzer. And while there was little to like about their Game One performance, the Trail Blazers can take some comfort in knowing they were able to bounce back from a rough start in the first round to win their series versus the Clippers.
“We got beat pretty soundly in Game One against the Clippers and we made some adjustments, we played a little bit better and got better as the series went along, and we need to do the same thing,” said Stotts. “So we’ll watch the video, see what we can come up with for Game Two. But there’s no question that we have to play better and learn from Game One like we did with the Clippers.”
The Trail Blazers were led by Lillard, who finished with 30 points, five assists and four steals in 41 minutes. CJ McCollum added 12 points, three rebounds and three assists in 40 minutes. Portland’s starting backcourt combined to shoot 13-of-43 from the field, with many of those makes coming when the game was already out of reach.
“We’ve just got to be better,” said Lillard, who said he’s been battling a chest cold the last few days (and sounded like it when answer questions postgame). “I got some looks that I need to make, CJ did as well. We just got to be better offensively if we want to have a chance against this team.”
Al-Farouq Aminu shot 6-of-13 from the field and 3-of-8 from three for 15 points in 25 minutes. Harkless added 10 points and three rebounds, with Mason Plumlee grabbing a game-high 13 boards.
Allen Crabbe continued his strong play as of late, going 6-of-9 from the field for 15 points and five rebounds in 33 minutes. Ed Davis went 5-of-6 from the field to finish with 11 points and seven rebounds before fouling out in 18 minutes.
Gerald Henderson finished with five points and three rebounds in 16 minutes before being ejected after getting receiving two technicals for arguing with Warriors center Anderson Varejao, who was also ejected.
The Warriors were led by Klay Thompson, who shot 50 percent from both the field and three to finish with a game-high 37 points to go along with five rebounds in 37 minutes.
“We’ve got to do a better job, starting with me if I’m guarding (Thompson),” said McCollum. “Got to make sure I’m pacing better and making him curl. Hard hedges got to be there, especially if it’s Bogut or somebody setting setting that screen where he’s not really a good shooter. We’ve got to make sure we make them pay for that.”
Draymond Green put up a triple-double of 23 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in 37 minutes. Shaun Livingston added 12 points and with both Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut finishing with 10 points.
Next up, the Trail Blazers will try to regroup before heading back to Oracle for Game Two on Tuesday.
“I got some looks that I usually would have made that I didn’t knock down,” said Lillard. “So next game, I look forward to the challenge again. At this point in the season, all that matters is winning. You either win or you lose; you advance or you go home. At this point, we’re just trying to fix things and make sure that our season keeps going.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm.