Warriors’ D snuffs Blazers in Game 2 win
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Wednesday night he didn’t have to implore his guys to ramp up their defensive intensity with star forward Kevin Durant out of the lineup.
They already knew.
The Warriors tightened the defensive screws with Durant on the sideline with a strained calf, limiting the Portland Trail Blazers to 12 points in a decisive third quarter en route to a run-away, 110-81 victory in Game 2 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series.
The teams travel to Portland for the next two meetings in the best-of-seven, with the Warriors taking a 2-0 lead into Game 3 on Saturday. Game 4 is set for Monday.
“They know that’s what our team is build on,” Kerr said of the Golden State defense. “People want to talk about the shooting in the backcourt and all that stuff, but this has been a great defensive team for a while. You’ve got to defend, especially in the playoffs. Our guys understand that’s the name of the game.”
“We didn’t look at it as an opportunity with (Durant) not being on the floor,” Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said. “We knew it was going to be tough either way. Coming here the first two games, we just wanted to take one. We didn’t do that.”
Golden State recorded its 11th straight home win over the Trail Blazers and 12th win in their last 13 head-to-heads, including a 4-1 triumph in last year’s Western semifinals.
Stephen Curry had 19 points and four steals, and backcourt mate Klay Thompson added 16 points as the Warriors won easily despite scoring 11 fewer points than in their 121-109 win in Game 1.
“It’s a series and points don’t carry over,” Lillard said of the blowout’s potential impact on the rest of the series. “So you can’t get too emotional or too low about the kind of game we had tonight.”
The game was won on the Warriors’ defensive end, where the Trail Blazers were harassed into 33.3 percent shooting overall and a 7-for-34 night on 3-pointers.
The Warriors’ 11 blocked shots contributed to the visitors’ 30-for-90 night.
Portland’s standout backcourt of Lillard and CJ McCollum, which combined for 75 points on 28-for-54 shooting in Sunday’s series opener, struggled to connect on just 9-of-34 in the rematch.
Lillard, who missed all four of his 3-point attempts, finished with 12 points. McCollum, just 1-for-3 on threes, had 11. Forward Moe Harkless led the Trail Blazers with 15 points.
“As I said when we started the series, we need to score,” Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “So give them credit for playing well defensively, but I certainly know we can play better offense than we did.”
Portland once again played without center Jusuf Nurkic, who is sidelined with a stress fracture in his right leg.
The Golden State defense was particularly destructive in the third period, when the Trail Blazers missed 16 of 22 shots, allowing the Warriors to extend a 55-46 halftime lead to 83-58.
Lillard (1-for-8) and McCollum (1-for-5) were held to a total of four points in the period.
Meanwhile, Curry, who had shot just 2-for-9 in the first half, finally caught fire, nailing three 3-pointers while single-handedly outscoring the Trail Blazers 13-12.
“They’re the best third-quarter team in the league,” Stotts said. “A lot of great teams really know how to turn up the screws in the third quarter and take a nine-point lead and get it to 15 or whatever. And that’s what they did.”
JaVale McGee made all seven of his shots, good for 15 points, in 13 minutes. Draymond Green had a 12-rebound, 10-assist double-double to go with six points, and Andre Iguodala grabbed 10 rebounds for the Warriors, who shot 44.0 percent overall and 10-for-32 on 3-pointers.
“I think they (Lillard and McCollum) were a little tired from Game 1. They both exhausted a lot of energy,” said Green, whose 12 rebounds and 10 assists were game highs. “You can’t expect to hold them to 23 points every night. But you can’t give them 75 either.”
Harkless had a team-high eight rebounds to complement his 15 points and Evan Turner dished a team-high seven assists for the Trail Blazers, who are facing the top-seeded team in West for the third time in the last four years.
“Sometimes shots go in, sometimes they don‘t. So we’re not going to take credit for their missed shots,” Kerr noted. “But I think in general our defense was excellent tonight. We put a lot of pressure on them, and we stayed with it.”
NOTES: The Warriors went 15-4 during SF Kevin Durant’s 19-game absence during the regular season. ... Asked before the game why his team wouldn’t play Durant (strained left calf) in a playoff game with an injury that’s not considered serious, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, “It’s not worth it. If we throw him out there and he pulls it and he’s out a few weeks, you’d feel like an idiot.” ... Trail Blazers PG Damian Lillard was held to fewer than 25 points for the first time in his last eight playoff games. He had tied SG Clyde Drexler’s franchise record of seven straight with 25 or more when he tallied 34 in Game 1. ... The postseason appearance was the 66th for Warriors SG Klay Thompson, tying SF Rick Barry for second on Golden State’s all-time list. SG Jeff Mullins is the leader with 77. ... Thompson’s three 3-pointers gave him 200 in the postseason for his career, tying him with Scottie Pippen and Michael Finley for 14th with NBA’s all-time list.