I hope everyone today took a few minutes to remember Martin Luther King Jr.
The Portland Trail Blazers are back home after two ugly road losses to both the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder. That Damian Lillard shot last April was supposed to have killed OKC and yet OKC seems like one of the most cohesive (not complete) teams in the whole league.
This is the first game without Kent Bazemore this season and CJ McCollum is also out tonight. Nassir Little and Anfernee Simons get the starts tonight in their stead. Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel, and Caleb Swanigan are not available tonight because apparently the League has not approved the trade yet. That’s cool. The Blazers only needed to shorten their bench by two extra guys tonight. No reason to rush, right?
The Warriors are switching everything and Damion Lee is ending up on Carmelo Anthony. And Melo has made him pay so far in the low post. Melo has a quick six on 3-3 shooting in the first six minutes of the half. Alec Burks has nine points and doesn’t seem to miss and Eric Paschall doesn’t seem to be on fire like he was the last game. He made a nice pass to Lee though. He shows some flashes of being a Draymond Green replacement.
The Blazers look like they could blow out the Warriors at any second, but then they go cold like they always do and instead of a 14 point lead they have a 27-23 lead at the end of the first. D’Angelo Russell is 1-9 to start the game. He shoots at his normal percentage the Blazers are down at the end of the quarter.
Russell hits two threes and the Warriors are off to a 12-0 to start the first two minutes of the second. The Blazers look very flatfooted to start the quarter. The Warriors push it to 20-6 in the quarter and if the Blazers had more than a hot dog and a beer on the bench I’d say empty the bench now and save Dame’s legs for Mavs and Luka Doncic on Thursday night.
Lillard got Lee into a washing machine and got three free throws and Portland seemed poised to begin to make a comeback, but the Warriors had answers every time. Lillard then hit one from somewhere near Klamath Falls. It was literally a single dribble from inside the half-court line. It helped cut the Warriors lead down to four at the half, 57-53.
This was not a good half of basketball.
The start of the third quarter was almost an exact replica of the start of the second quarter. Portland looked flatfooted and the Warriors were getting any shot they wanted from anywhere they wanted. Russell, Paschall, and Burks were doing anything they wanted and Portland wasn’t attempting to stop them.
At this point, Damian Lillard got pretty upset and started making threes from all over the Pacific Northwest. I think he hit one from somewhere up near Prince George. After hitting four in a row the Warriors started to double Dame even when he didn’t have the ball. They attempted to triple-team him when he did.
Sadly, the rest of the Blazers did not help the effort much.
Lillard had 42 at the end of three and it feels like he is going to have 60 and the Blazers lose this one. Which is totally the way the season is going.
Terry Stotts decided to rest Lillard to start the fourth. I thought this was a bad idea for a couple of reasons:
1. The bench sucks.
2. Dame was wicked hot.
You don’t pull the hot hand ever…. Unless your name is Terry Stotts.
Carmelo Anthony and Gary Trent Jr. made some big shots for the Blazers as they cut the Warriors lead down to two and kept the Blazers in the game until Dame checked in with about eight minutes left. Dame immediately came in and hit his eighth and ninth threes of the night to give the Blazers their first lead since early in the second quarter.
D’Angelo Russell would not go quietly into that cold Portland night. He hit a step in three and an acrobatic reverse layup to get the Warriors the lead back.
The Warriors went back to triple-teaming Dame, but it didn’t matter. He got to the bucket and got his 51st point of the evening as the Blazers got the lead back at 110-109. On the ensuing possession, Hassan Whiteside got a big block on Damion Lee, but the Blazers could not get another basket on their end to extend the lead. The Warriors got three offensive rebounds before Paschall put in a wide-open dunk to give the Warriors the lead back.
Alec Burks gave the Warriors a three-point lead off a Gary Trent Jr. foul to put them up 113-110. But Dame hit a three right in the mug of Burks (who played incredible defense on the possession). This tied the game up at 113 and gave Dame 54 points and his 10th three of the night.
And we have free basketball to cover tonight.
Alec Burks and Eric Paschall got two quick mid-range buckets to start the extra period and then Willy Caulie-Stein capitalized 6-0 one with a big dunk forcing Portland to call for a timeout.
Anfernee Simons and Damian Lillard on consecutive possessions hit big threes and tied the game.
Lillard sealed the game late scoring his franchise-record 61st points. Hassan Whiteside had 17 points and 21 rebounds, Anfernee Simons had 16 and hurt his ankle late in the OT, Carmelo had 14, while Gary Trent Jr. had 11 off the bench.
The Blazers have a few nights off before they take on the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday.