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.