Live from the Moda Center as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Golden State Warriors.
Well, that last road trip could have gone better. The Blazers suffered their first four-game losing streak of the season, lost Mo Williams for two weeks to a hip injury, and had to shelve LaMarcus Aldridge for an indefinite amount of time after he hurt his back on a nasty spill. When it rains it pours.
If there is any silver lining to the latest round of woes for the Blazers, it’s that Damian Lillard took on more leadership responsibilities. After dropping their fourth in a row, Dame called a team meeting. Tired of losing, especially after a few late collapses against Dallas and Houston, Lillard apparently put the onus on the players to finish games strongly.
Talk is one thing. With the Blazers down six late against the New Orleans Pelicans, their first game after said meeting, Lillard backed up his words by laying waste to the arena. He willed the Blazers to a win, putting his stamp all over a game that was dangerously close to being Portland’s fifth loss in a row. His late dagger was a fitting exclamation point on an incredibly rough week.
There is no rest for the weary, though. The Blazers return home to face the Warriors, the team breathing down their neck in the playoff race. As if that wasn't enough, Portland is a week away from another five-game road swing. Hey, at least Miami is nice this time of year.
This Warriors team is tough, making their name with one of the best defenses in the league. And yes, the irony of David Lee—possibly the worst defender in the league— being on a great defense shouldn't be lost on anyone.
With the Splash Brothers (Steph Curry and Klay Thompson) in tow, Golden State can rain threes from anywhere on the court. Curry especially. Dude is in range as soon as he crosses mid-court. The Lillard / Curry matchup will especially be great, as neither player can guard a lick or has a conscious when it comes to jacking threes. Even with Golden State's defense, this is going to be a barn burner.
With Aldridge out, Portland will need another herculean effort from Nicolas Batum. Against the Pelicans, Batum had possibly his best all around game of the year, putting up 22 points and 18 boards. Something tells me we’ll be on a triple double watch tonight.
Woah, breaking news! Mo Williams is probable for tonight's game. It was initially announced he'd be out for two weeks, but I guess that hip is feeling better. Good thing. Every game is crucial at this point, but a game against a close Western Conference opponent holds significant weight. Portland can't afford to drop this one.
11:31 - Robin Lopez gets the scoring started with a jumper in the lane. Game over? 2-0 Blazers.
10:40 - The Warriors are going with David Lee on every possession. They are betting that the smaller Dorell Wright won't be able to guard him, and I think that's a pretty good bet. 2-2 Tie.
8:49 - The Blazers have switched Robin Lopez over to guard David Lee, but he's still doing damage. He's got all six Golden State points thus far. Good thing the Blazers are getting theirs on the offensive end, because it's going to be a long night trying to guard that guy. 9-6 Blazers.
6:39 - Andrew Bogut becomes the first player other than David Lee to score for the Warriors, and he did so in incredible fashion by going coast to coast and getting a layup. The big man has handles. 11-10 Blazers.
5:39 - Dan Aykroyd is in the building! What a coincidence, because I am wasted off of Crystal Head Vodka. 15-14 Blazers.
4:23 - Mo Williams, making his presence felt already. He chased down David Lee and picked his pocket from behind, then hit the deck to secure the loose ball. His hustle led to a wide open dunk for Dorell Wright. 17-14 Blazers.
2:50 - Will Barton just got up for an alley-oop from Damian Lillard. That was pretty, and only happened because Robin Lopez tracked down an offensive rebound. 19-14 Blazers.
2:10 - Steve Blake! Jermaine O'Neal! It's the ghosts of Blazers past. 20-16 Blazers.
1:15 - Lillard guarding Andre Iguodala in the post is going to fail. Every time. 22-20 Blazers.
0:00 - Well, so much for the barn burner. Steve Blake briefly gave the Warriors their first lead of the game, but Damian Lillard did Damian Lillard things at the end of the quarter. Steph Curry hasn't even scored yet. 24-23 Blazers.
10:37 - Does Jermaine O'Neal think it's 1998 or something? He's got six points for the Warriors, but with his age that really should count for double. 27-27 Tie.
9:33 - Jermaine O'Neal offense rebound, Jermaine O'Neal put back. I haven't seen him this lively since the Carter administration. 29-27 Warriors.
7:04 - Wesley Matthews doesn't want to get left out of the post up party. He just took Klay Thompson down low and tied it up with ease. There have been far too many post ups and not enough threes in this game. 31-31 Tie.
5:50 - Batum and Lopez, running that pick and roll to perfection. Batum isn't quite on pace for a triple double, but he does have five rebounds already. 35-31 Blazers.
4:33 - And just like that, there's back to back threes for Lillard and Batum. And just like that, this game got a hell of a lot more entertaining. 41-33 Blazers.
4:05 - Mo Williams threw a behind the head pass in transition. He had the layup, but opted to no look it back to Batum for the easy slam. Timeout Golden State. 43-33 Blazers.
3:17 - Steph Curry stops the bleeding with his first make of the night. The Warriors needed that in the worst way possible. The Portland defense has looked great thus far. Just typing that sentence almost made my computer explode. 45-35 Blazers.
1:53 - Damian Lillard just ran into an Andrew Bogut pick and hit the floor like he had been shot. That looked like it hurt. Even worse, the pick freed up Steph Curry for an easy jumper. 48-39 Blazers.
0:09 - Steph Curry is out here trying to keep the Warriors in this one, his shot finally starting to fall. He drained a three, and the Blazers will take time to try and get a good look at the last shot. 55-44 Blazers.
0:00 - So much for a good last shot. David Lee got a finger on a Lillard three and we're at the half. Still, the Blazers can head into the locker room feeling good—their defense did its job, the offense was good enough, and they've got a decent lead headed into the second half. 55-44 Blazers.
11:49 - Robin Lopez with the and one dunk to start the third! 58-44 Blazers.
10:02 - Dorell Wright has more threes in the last two minutes than Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have all game. Combined. 64-48 Blazers.
9:10 - Matthews for three! The long ball is dropping this quarter, and the Blazers are opening this one up as a result. 67-50 Blazers.
7:46 - Batum for three! Whoo boy, it's turning into a blowout. 70-52 Blazers.
6:13 - There was just trivia on the big screen and the answer was Isiah Thomas. Too bad "Isiah" was spelled incorrectly. How you gonna disrespect Zeke like that, Blazers? 72-56 Blazers.
4:54 - Steph Curry just hit a step-back, high arcing rainbow three. That was the splash everyone was guaranteed, finally an electric moment from beyond the arc for the Warriors. They are going to need a lot more of that. 74-62 Blazers.
2:35 - Portland just lost Harrison Barnes on a corner three in transition. Nobody bothered to pick him up at all, and he got the easiest and most wide open shot of the night. So much for that defense! 78-67 Blazers.
1:29 - I blinked, and Steph Curry has 22 points like that. His last two free throws just cut the lead back to within single digits. The Warriors defense has started looking more like the Warriors defense. 81-72 Blazers.
0:00 - The end of that quarter...eesh. Two free throws from Lillard salvaged what would have been a disaster, but the Warriors were still able to cut it back to single digits, even getting it back to within six points late. It was a problem with the defense, as Portland gave up 33 points. 85-77 Blazers.
10:51 - Steph Curry, doing Steph Curry things. A top of the key three-pointer has turned this one into a ballgame. 87-82 Blazers.
10:33 - Draymond Green just fouled out. He's played 23 minutes. That's some Meyers Leonard next level foul rate right there. 89-82 Blazers.
9:42 - Ugh, Steph. After that sluggish start, he's got 27 points. The Blazers don't have an answer. 89-86 Blazers.
8:48 - Steph Curry three. Again. And again. And again, until infinity. He celebrated after that one, and rightfully so. It's a shooting clinic and everyone's invited. 91-89 Blazers.
6:43 - The good news is the Blazers are now in the penalty. The bad news is that Robin Lopez only made one of his two free throws, and the Portland lead is down to only two points, and Warriors are showing now signs of slowing down. 96-94 Blazers.
6:01 - It's getting unruly in here. Thompson was all over Lillard on one end and got a massive block as a result. A foul was called on Mo Williams in transition on Thompson. The crowd is fuming, and Stotts even picked up a technical in the process. The Warriors have the lead. It's another fourth quarter collapse. Let's see if Lillard can back up his talk once again. 97-96 Warriors.
5:04 - Steph picked off an entry pass on one end, hit a step back three (off a vicious crossover) on the other. Dude is lighting this game up. 100-96 Warriors.
4:16 - Nicolas Batum does not want to lose. He's got six straight Portland points, and and one drive and a step back triple of his own. Ball. 102-100 Blazers.
3:41 - Not the place to pick up a technical foul there, Mo. That outburst just gave the Warriors the lead with all of the freebies. 103-102 Warriors.
3:09 - Okay, Mo. You do you. He just hit a three on the other end to make up for that mental lapse seconds ago. 105-103 Blazers.
2:11 - Yes, Lillard! Off of a Batum miss, he chased down the rebound amongst two Warriors and got fouled on the put back attempt. That was an aggressive take, the exact look Portland needs right. They can't get out-muscled here late. Two free throws, and we're tied up again. 107-107 Tie.
1:35 - Lillard with another offensive rebound (!!), Mo Williams with the immediate turnover. Blech. 107-107 Tie.
0:54 - Dame tries to go the rack but can't convert. Klay Thompson hits a three on the other end. Uh oh. 110-107 Warriors.
0:46 - Lillard smash! Holy dunk, that was nice. Now Portland just needs a stop! 110-109 Warriors.
0:20 - Blazers get a stop! Lillard had a chance to pick up the and one in transition, but the ball juuuust rimmed out. Two free throws coming. First one: down! Second one: down! 111-110 Blazers.
0:11 - Warriors don't call time. Steph penetrates, kicks it out to the corner, the ball fizzes around the perimeter to an open Klay Thompson. Money. Portland is going to need some more heroics to pull this one out. 113-111 Warriors.
0:06 - Dame misses at the rim, but Batum is there to get the offensive rebound! He's fouled! Two free throws! First one, down. Second one, out. No! 113-112 Warriors.
0:00 - The missed free throw bounced out. Dame got a hand on it, kicked it out to Batum, who put up a desperation three. He thought he was fouled, no call. The Warriors escape.
FINAL: 113-112 Warriors. Another heart-wrenching loss for the Blazers. The Blazers couldn't get it when it mattered, gave up 69 points in the second half, and fell just short of victory. The fourth quarter issues are a problem. It almost felt like tonight would be a turning point, but no, it's just another loss. Portland is fading, but thankfully next up is a visit from the pitiful Milwaukee Bucks.