PORTLAND — The Portland Trail Blazers fell to 43-24 on the season and 24-9 at home with a 113-112 loss to the Golden State Warriors Sunday night at the Moda Center.
With the loss, Portland is now just 1.5 games ahead of the Warriors for the fifth seed in the Western Conference. Golden State now holds a 2-1 lead in the season series, with the fourth and final contest scheduled for April 13 in Portland.
After trailing for almost all of the first three quarters, the Warriors took the lead midway through the fourth quarter thanks to the hot shooting of Stephen Curry, who finished the game with 37 points, 28 of those coming in the second half.
“Disappointed to lose another close game,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “I thought we played a good game. Stephen Curry got hot in the second half. We had some miscommunication on giving up some threes, but it’s just that we have to
figure out ways to close out games and realize plays — when we had a 16, 18-point lead, we can’t take our foot off the gas. Steph Curry, he’s done that before and we couldn’t get him under control.”
After going 3 of 9 in the first half, Curry was nearly unstoppable in the second. The 6-3 All-Star guard out of Davidson played the entire second half and hit big shot after big shot to get Golden State back in the game after trailing by as many as 18 in the third quarter. Whether he was getting open shots in the pick and roll or taking contested jumpers out of isolation, Curry rarely missed after the intermission, regardless of who the Blazers threw at him.
“You can say trap him, but that opens up other guys rolling to the basket, opens up other three-point shooters,” said Stotts. “So I thought Wes (Matthews) did a good job on him towards the end of the fourth quarter. We did a good job on him in the first half. To be honest, I thought the shots he made in the second half were tougher than the ones he missed in the first.”
Curry put up 13 points in the third quarter and 15 in the fourth while shooting 8 of 15 from the field and 5 of 8 from three to put the Warriors in position to win the game in the fourth.
“He’s a superstar,” said Wesley Matthews of Curry. ” The way he plays, he’s unconventional. He’s not one of those guys where they have to run a set for him and he’s going to come off a screen and then he’s going to catch it and then he’s going to isolate at this spot – he has the ball from the moment they inbound the ball and with the ultimate green light. I think we did a solid job on him in the first half. He came alive a little bit but the last four or five minutes, it wasn’t (just) him.”
No it was not. While Curry got the Warriors back into the game, it was his teammate and “Splash Brother” Klay Thompson who finished off the Trail Blazers in the fourth. The 6-7 shooting guard, who is the son of former Trail Blazer Mychal Thompson, shot 4 of 8 from the field and 3 of 5 from the three-point line in the fourth to end the quarter with 15 of his 27 points.
After a back-and-forth battle through the last six minutes of the game, the Warriors took the lead for good on a Thompson three-pointer with 11 seconds to play to put Golden State up 113-111. Thompson got a wide-open look after the defense collapsed on Curry as he drove to the basket. The Trail Blazers tried to recover to the three-point line, but could not do so in time.
“He’s a big time player,” said Warriors head coach Mark Jackson of Thompson. “There’s no question about it. He’s as cool as they come. It does not bother him making and missing shots. He’s not afraid to take the next one.”
The Trail Blazers had a chance to at least time the game on the ensuing possession. With 11 seconds to play, the Trail Blazers got the ball to Damian Lillard, who drove the lane and drew contact while putting up a shot, though did not get the call, nor the bucket.
“I knew that they thought I was going to be in the mid pick and roll and they would try to kind of trap me,” said Lillard of his final attempt. “I could tell they were trying to stay until I picked up the ball. So I just had (Robin Lopez) clear out instead of him coming up. I figured Thompson would jump on the side thinking I was going to have a screen and roll, then I would have a lane. I took off. I wish I would have been able to get to the rim cleaner.”
Nicolas Batum grabbed the offensive rebound and did get a foul call on his putback attempt. Batum would make the first but miss the second with five seconds to play. A mad scramble for the rebound ensued, with Batum eventually coming away with the rebound, but his desperation three-pointer with two seconds to play was well off the mark.
“Up 18 at home, we can’t do that,” said Batum. “We did a good first half, played good in the first half, great defense. Had a good lead in the third quarter again, up 17 or 18, then we let it go. They started making shots but we didn’t get shots. We let them play like they want to play and we missed shots. But at the end, we got a chance to win the game anyway. They make plays, we make plays and it goes their way.”
The Blazers were led by Lillard, who finished with 26 points on 8 of 22 shooting to go with seven assists and two rebounds. Batum finished with 23 points, 14 points and five assists in the losing effort. He is the first Trail Blazer in franchise history to record back-to-back games with at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and four three-pointers after doing the same thing in Friday night’s victory in New Orleans.
Robin Lopez tallied his 25th double-double this season and the 40th of his career with 14 points and 10 rebounds in 38 minutes. He also handed out a season-high four assists. Dorell Wright, starting for the seventh time this season in place of LaMarcus Aldridge (lower back contusion), and Matthews added 13 points apiece. Mo Williams, who returned earlier than expected from a hip injury sustained in last Tuesday’s loss in Memphis, scored 12 off the bench.
Next up, the Trail Blazers host the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 PM.
Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is currently holding his annual youth basketball camp in Beaverton, and unlike some of these events put on by other players, Lillard is there actually there working with the kids every day. If you send your child to the Damian Lillard Basketball Camp, he or she is going to meet Damian Lillard.
But even though the focus is on the kids, Lillard took a few minutes to take questions from the media about the camp, his recent trip to Asia, working with Special Olympics, the upcoming free agent signing period on his involvement with recruiting and why he declined to to play for Team USA.
Regarding the Damian Lillard Basketball Camp experience…
“When I get up there and speak, I tell them ‘Make sure you thank your parents, make sure you listen to the coaches, follow their instructions, be coachable, work hard.’ Just simple things like that, a lot of basic things that could teach them a lot more than how simple it is, things like that. Just being here and having a presence is the biggest thing. The session that you guys just watched, it’s something that I’ve enjoyed because it allows me to kind of break apart the game for the kids. For them it might be a little bit boring, but it’s 10 minutes of the day where they get to listen and see what’s going on, that it’s deeper than just a pass and a shot. Some of them are probably too young to follow it as well as the older ones, but I think it’s something that you can really teach them at a young age.”
On his relationship with Special Olympics…
“When I was 17, when I first got on campus at Weber State, it was a mandatory thing, we did a one day camp with Special Olympics. The first day I kind of just went in there, I didn’t really know much about it. But then I saw that some of them, they wanted to play against us and they could actually play. They had as much passion with the game as I did, they really enjoyed our company. I’ll never forget, it was a random day like months after the Special Olympics event and there was a kid — I’ll never forget his name — Jason Depper. I was at the mall and he walked up to me at the mall like ‘Remember I made that shot on you?’ and I was just like ‘That’s funny.’ It had that type of impact on him. I’ve been involved ever since.”
On his recent trip through Asia with adidas…
“It was fun, did some pop-ups at stores. I went to some 3-on-3 tournaments, watched a lot of kids play. They’re playing so they can all make it to Beijing and it’s like a super tournament over there right now. I did some promotion for my shoes and things like that, I went back to a store that I opened up after my rookie year in Taipei, I went back to Manila. We did a huge event there, I got to get in the three-point shootout, they let me perform a couple times over there. It was kind of on the spot performances, but I had a lot of fun.”
Why he decided not to be a part of the 2016 Olympic team…
“It was simple: the last three months of the season I played with plantar fasciitis and it really bothered me. There was days the games seemed like the only time I could play, and that was adrenaline and two hours of treatment before the game. I didn’t want to go into next season dealing with it. I actually really wanted to play and I was really close to saying ‘Just forget it, I’m going to go’ but I didn’t want to go to Rio and come back a month before training camp and my foot still be bothering me, then I can’t give what I want to give to my team. That was just more important to me.”
On free agency…
“I think there’s some guys out there that can really help take our team to the next level. I really like the guys we have, too. I’m a strong believer that if guys go home and get better over the summer, we come back, we’ll be that much better. We’ll continue to get better. But my job is to make sure that I’m prepared and when I’m asked about a player that can help us, I’m going to give my honest opinion. That’s my duty to our team.”
His thoughts on Portland’s free agency plan…
“I’m excited, because it’s not hard to see… Our whole roster could look at free agency and say ‘This guy could help us, this guy could help us.’ It’s just a matter of how bad they want to be here, what we have to offer compared to what they would like. We’ll see where it goes. I have no doubt that our team is going to be ready regardless of who we bring in, who we don’t bring in. We’ll come back ready.”
Whether he’s going to help recruit free agents in person…
“Maybe. Maaaaaaybe… I might. To help our team, of course.”
Regarding what he’d tell free agents who might have “red flags” about joining Portland’s locker room…
“When I speak to these guys, I’m going to tell them what it is with our team on how we do things, what will be tolerated and what won’t. If we happen to get someone that has red flags, we don’t know for sure if that’s ‘he said, she said’ or if it’s real or if it’s the situation or people around him or what. But if it comes to our culture and our individual, it will be addressed. Nobody going to back down to nobody, let somebody come in here and think something is going to change, because it’s not. That’s not just me. I’m going to be the first one to say something because that’s just what it is. I know CJ (McCollum) is going to back that up and each guy down the line is going to back that up. We show up every day to practice to work, we show up on time, we hold each other accountable, we allow our teammates to hold us accountable and that’s the bottom line. We don’t do cute stuff, we show up and do what we’ve got to do and that’s it. If you don’t want to do it, it’s not going to work.”
Greetings fans of NBA offseason news. With the 2106 Draft now completed and the free agent moratorium less than 48 away, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net/TrailBlazers.com, hit the Moda Center studio to record yet another edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…
This week, Trail Blazers power forward Meyers Leonard joins the show to discuss his travels around Oregon this offseason, rehabbing from the shoulder surgery that prematurely ended his 2015-16 season, “sprint mechanics” and his upcoming restricted free agency. As for the rest of the show, we briefly recap Portland’s draft night, which netted the team Maryland forward Jake Layman, discuss what we know about the negotiations regarding the team’s television rights and discuss the unpredictability that is free agency.
The relationship between Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver predates both of their current occupations. When the two first sat down for a interview back in 2010, McCollum had not yet been drafted by the Trail Blazers with the 10th overall pick of the 2012 Draft (though that would happen later that night) and Silver, while already tabbed to take over for outgoing commissioner David Stern, was still pulling duty as deputy commissioner.
Every year since then, McCollum and Silver have met up in New York City after the end of the season to discuss topics pertaining to the NBA and society in general. In 2014, they discussed the situation with the previous Los Angeles Clippers ownership, the age limit, emerging technologies, Silver’s first year as the NBA’s head honcho and their favorite Jay-Z tracks. In 2015, McCollum, armed with a few seasons of experience and a new job at The Players’ Tribune, followed up on some of the questions from the year before regarding the age limit while also bringing up issues such as ads on jerseys, transparency in officiating and head injuries.
And in their fourth annual interview, released on The Players’ Tribune as a part of McCollum’s summer internship with the athlete-owned website, the two discuss how far they’ve come (or in CJ’s case, how much weight he’s lost) since their first meeting in 2012, Silver’s handshakes, whether the NBA would have their All-Star Weekend at “remote locations” like the NFL, whether the league is considering moving the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, the 2016 NBA Finals and the suspension of Draymond Green and recent efforts to increase diversity in NBA front offices. You can watch an excerpt of the interview in the above video, or read the entire Q&A over at The Players’ Tribune.