Last night the Trail Blazers donned and debuted their Earned Edition jerseys against the Golden State Warriors. All 16 teams that made the playoffs in 2018 got a flashy new uniform design to strut in this season. Remember? The Blazers were in the playoffs last season. If you blinked your eyes you could’ve potentially missed them being blown out by the Pelicans like a hurricane would extinguish a birthday cake. Either that, or you’re just trying to force the memory into the deepest, darkest regions of your mind and forget like the rest of us.
Maybe we can all pretend that the Blazers got their Earned Edition jerseys for the solid overtime win against the Warriors on Thursday. The Blazers were competitive, composed, and held the lead for the bulk of the contest. Even in the overtime period when it looked like it was gonna slip away, the Blazers held fast and Damian Lillard delivered his standard heroics with a big three in the final seconds to clinch the win.
The Warriors really aren’t the immovable object that they were in the past several seasons. They’re not as intimidating so far this season. The Blazers have certainly had their number in the past, but Thursday night was a different kind of win. The Blazers worked hard for it, and it was clear that passions were white hot for both teams. Dame and Jonas Jerebko got into a little tussle at one point during the game that resulted in a technical foul dealt to Dame. That type of emotional fire is typically not in Dame’s wheelhouse, but it was great to see. The Blazers need to stand up to the bullies in their conference like that.
Considering Thursday’s frustrating loss for the Warriors, you best believe they were out to fill buckets of blood last night. There was no way they were gonna let the Blazers win back to back games against them. From end to end, the drama was palpable, and the technical fouls were flying. Despite a 40 point game for Dame, the Warriors got the win, 115-105.
The Blazers played a great first quarter. They looked just like they did on Thursday. Dame was in the pocket from beyond the arc and popped a handful of smooth threes. Steph Curry has this uncanny three-point trigger that looks like he’s flicking a cigarette off his hip. It’s deadly and you can barely see it coming. Dame had a similar stroke in the first quarter. The lead teeter-tottered until the Warriors ended up on top by three to end the quarter.
Come the second quarter, and the Warriors had all the cards. Within the first three minutes they jacked their lead up to 14. The Warriors’ defense made it difficult for the Blazers to get any good looks, and offensively Curry and Klay Thompson were locked on. The Warriors lead got up to 18 before the Blazers decided to get back in the game. Once they started leaning into the Warriors a little, the Warriors got frustrated quickly. Draymond Green got in an official’s face after a run in with Jusuf Nurkic in the Blazers’ paint. It was unclear what Nurk did, but both were awarded technical fouls.
Then in the final seconds of the half, Andre Iguodala had issues getting a handle on the ball as he brought it up the court due to the Blazers’ buzzing defense. Once he got control, he angrily hurled the ball from half court roughly ten rows into the crowd as the final buzzer sounded. He clearly wasn’t aiming for the hoop. He just tossed the ball aimlessly. After the officials reviewed the play, it was deemed a “hostile act,” and Iguodala was ejected from the game. There was no telling how the Warriors would do without him in the second half, but the Blazers were certainly under their skin.
The Warriors held the Blazers at bay for most of the third, but in the last five minutes it turned into the Dame and Nurk show. If Dame wasn’t dropping deadly dimes, he was running a pick-and-roll to Nurk who would blast his way to the rim. Dame and Nurk had 35 and 21 points, respectively, and worked the Warriors lead down to five. Unfortunately it didn’t last long. The Warriors roared back and took a ten point lead into the final quarter.
Neither the Blazers or the Warriors could get the ball in the hole to start the fourth. It was a wild and sloppy scene. Nobody scored until just under the nine minute mark when Meyers Leonard broke the seal with a dunk. After that the Warriors took it and ran. The Blazers got close toward the end, but after Dame didn’t agree with a call in the last two minutes things really got intense. Dame and Coach Terry Stotts both got technical fouls from the melee with the officials.
It was an aggravating night for both teams. It will be interesting to see what this emotionally volatile relationship with the Blazers and the Warriors evolves into before their next meeting....