In their second match in three days, the Portland Trail Blazers fell to the Golden State Warriors 137-122 at the Chase Center. Steph Curry dominated this for the Warriors and achieved a career high of 62 points.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum were the top blazers scorers, scoring 32 and 28 respectively. 28 points. Enes Kanter earned double doubles in 24 minutes, scored 24 points and scored 12 rebounds, eight of them on the offensive.
The Blazers got off to a quick start, forcing early turnovers and taking advantage of those opportunities at the other end for an early 9-2 lead. But the warriors shook it off and put together an 11-0 run based on their own foregone sales. Golden State played like a team that was crazy about being blown out in their last game. They relentlessly attacked the rim and Steph Curry slipped effortlessly past whoever stood in front of him for layups. Golden State was rewarded for their aggressiveness when they scored fouls against Portland in the quarter of nine (though the Blazers appeared to do so). . . disagree with most of these calls). CJ McCollum – who drew two early fouls and sat for most of the quarter – hit a three to end a chippy first quarter, with Golden State leading 36-33.
The second quarter started with more back and forth than we saw to end the first. McCollum bounced back from a difficult opening quarter and scored nine points in the second quarter. With this he showed his special ability to take hard hits. But once again the defensive problems plagued the blazers as the Golden State was sliced and diced. Curry’s constant movement from the ball and Draymond Green’s ability to direct traffic prepared the Warriors for offensive success. Curry was completely unconscious from the floor and worked the blazer for 31 points in half. Coupled with the offensive fighting in Portland (39% off the field, 25% out of three), this meant a 66-54 lead for Golden State.
Things didn’t get much better for Portland at the start of day three. Looking more determined to find his shot, Lillard specifically hunted down bigger players like James Wiseman, who had no hope of keeping up with him. But the defensive problems continued. The Portland fouls didn’t make things any easier. Derrick Jones Jr. . had five fouls in the middle of the third while McCollum, Lillard and Robert Covington all contributed three or more. Curry continued to make an ungodly amount of buckets, and the Warriors led 97-83 in fourth.
If you suspected Enes Kanter was the reason the Blazers made this game interesting in the final stage, then that’s good for you because I don’t think most people would. But Kanter’s rebounds – especially in the offensive area – and the indoor scoring played a big role in keeping this game within reach. It forced Golden State to bring Wiseman back to the ground, which opened up more opportunities for Lillard. Lillard Time started around the middle of the quarter when he hit consecutive threes to reduce the lead to single digits. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how much you do offensively when Curry gets 62 points. Portland lost 137-122.
It’s a conversation that I think everyone is sick of at this point, but it’s too much to ignore: Portland still can’t put together a consistent 48-minute defense effort. You can attribute that loss to Curry exploding offensively or questionably officiating if you like, but it doesn’t change the fact that Portland gave up 137 points tonight.
As easy as it is to get excited about people like Covington and Jones, they will never solve all defensive problems in Portland. But in theory this team should be better than defense, and it’s worrying that players like Nurkic and Covington haven’t impacted the game the way they should. Portland still has a lot to do at this end to hit the average.
Enes Kanter is one of the most intriguing blazers to debate. This game was the perfect encapsulation. He had 24 points and 12 boards in just 24 minutes, but he was also one of the main reasons Portland was fighting for defense. It is the Kanter conundrum that Portland will always face: does the good offense outweigh the terrible defense?
Kanter wasn’t a stranger when he returned to the Blazers for the off-season. We always knew it was a mixed bag. The question is whether he can make up for his defensive shortcomings with production on the other end. It could be so easy not to pair him with other defense liabilities like Carmelo Anthony. It could be more than that. But if anything, this game showed that Kanter can be an asset to Portland.
We’re officially two weeks into the season and the blazers fit with one . 500 record. They’ve had good wins and really bad losses. One night they seem to beat anyone in the league; The next day they lose to an inferior opponent. This Warriors series shows this polarization directly.
Is that exactly what the blazers will be this year? Will they be fatal one night and fall flat the next? If Portland is to get a home advantage in the playoffs, it has to figure out how to find that middle ground and stay consistent. You can’t afford to blow out teams just to be blown out in turn.
The blazers will be back at the Moda Center on Tuesday to take on the Chicago Bulls. The tip is at 7:30 p.m.. m. PT.
Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazer, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, NBA, Draymond Green
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