The Blazers were back on the road after blowing a 21 point second-half lead to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night and looking for an easy win against Ky Bowman, Jordan Poole, and the rest of the injury-stricken Golden State Warriors. Everyone knows that Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green were out and that the Blazers should roll. Every analyst on television was saying Blazers by 30!
Plus, the Blazers wanted to give the Warriors a little retribution for last year’s Western Conference Finals.
Damian Lillard and Hassan Whiteside got the memo that they should come out and play tonight, the rest of the Blazers did not. Eric Paschall had a career-high 36 points on his 23rd birthday and Steve Kerr stills own Terry Stotts as the Warriors beat the Blazers 127-118.
This game did not start the way the Blazers wanted. They attacked the paint early and often, but the Eric Paschall and the Warriors were draining three-pointers. Once again the Blazers did not guard the three-point line and gave up 17 first-quarter points to the rookie Paschall.
The Warriors shot 65% from the floor in the first and jumped out to a 34-32 lead. Damian Lillard had ten points and the rest of the team appeared to be thinking of Thursday’s game against Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers. They definitely did not have any interest in guarding the three-point line. It’s only been an issue for the first seven games of the year. Tonight is definitely the night it is not to be fixed.
Mario Hezonja had a really dirty step-back three-pointer and that was the main highlight for the Blazers in the first.
On the plus side, the Blazers only had one first-quarter turnover.
In the second quarter, the Warriors used some three from Omari Spellman and Jordan Poole to push themselves up to a nine-point lead. The Warriors shot 7-15 from three in the first half. To their credit, the Blazers did not allow Paschall to make a three-pointer in the second quarter.
Hassan Whiteside started to swing the momentum back around for the Blazers. He had a height advantage and a leaping advantage over pretty much anyone on the nine-man Warriors roster. He was grabbing boards and putting the ball into the basket. Then Anfernee Simons and Damian Lillard started to knock down some threes and the Blazers took the lead.
The Blazers headed into halftime up 63-60. The Blazers did pick up 30 points in the paint and held the Warriors to 16. The Blazers gave up 84 points in the paint on Saturday to the Sixers.
I liked how the Blazers opened the third by getting Whiteside an easy basket at the rim. On the other side of the floor, Whiteside had a block and changed two other shots, Steve Kerr decided to change the offense at this point. He started having Willie Cauley-Stein playing up above the top of the key and started running back cuts and with the Blazers over-focused on the three-point line the Warriors were able to get a lot of layups and if the Blazers collapsed they had open threes. Kerr decided to start running back screens with Jordan Poole on Whiteside and it got WCS a few easy dunks.
The Blazers are an absolute mess defensively early in the season. Terry Stotts finally started adjusting and Kerr knew what the adjustment would be and the Warriors started attacking the adjustments. Paschall dominated Anthony Tolliver in the third quarter. Tolliver last all of a minute and a half before he was replaced by Hezonja.
The Blazers were outscored 27-20 in the third quarter. They only turned the ball over once in the third, but they could not make any shots. Well, Lillard could make shots. Whiteside made a couple of shots, but no one else has bothered to show up offensively at this point.
Anfernee Simons decided to show up in the fourth quarter. He started attacking the hoop, getting to the line and finding Skal Labissiere for an easy basket. They cut the Warriors lead down to one, 92-91.
That’s when the Warriors started acting as they did in the Western Conference Finals last year and running the Blazers off the floor. There was a little tilly between Ky Bowman and Whiteside as the Warriors took a 104-99 lead with about six minutes left in the game.
The Warriors were fired up, Paschall hit another three (his fourth of the game) and Marquese Chriss had a wide-open rebound putback to move the lead to 109-99.
From there the Warriors broke the will of the Blazers.
Dame finished with 39, Whiteside had 22, CJ has 14 (five came in garbage time), Simons had 12 off the bench and Hezonja had 11. Anthony Tolliver and Rodney Hood were basically invisible tonight.
The Blazers travel to Los Angeles on Thursday night to take on Clippers. The game is on TNT at 7:30 PM.
The Blazers really need to tighten up that three-point defense. They all suck into the paint on any drive and other teams have ridiculous amounts of space to get off shots. This would not have been a problem twenty years ago, but now that every team can shoot a decent clip from three… Terry Stotts needs to get this fixed. Right now the defense is… well.
The Blazers probably don’t lose on Saturday if they had Whiteside on Saturday night. There is no way the Sixers get 84 points in the paint if he’s there. Then again…
Kerr showed how to take Whiteside out of the game defensively. Whiteside will get lost if his man is not in the paint and his awareness goes right out the window. Any decent coach is going to pull Whiteside away from the basket for the rest of the year. It’ll cut down rebounds for the Blazers and make Whiteside ineffective.
Everyone outside of Damian Lillard has been cold to start the year. He’s also the only one that really shows hustle night after night. Whiteside showed some flashes and the Kerr took him out of the game. Simons looked good in spurts, but then would be replaced by Dame or CJ.
CJ had nine points until garbage time. He’s had too many games like this early this year. He as projected to be an All-Star this year.
Paschall was getting MVP chants. I think this is the first time a 23-year-old, 41st overall pick rookie had this happen to them.
Only six turnovers tonight. That’s a positive.
The Clippers are going to murder the Blazers on Thursday night.