The Portland Trail Blazers win a battle and their best game of the year, taking out the Golden State Warriors 113-101 on the road, on the second night of a back-to-back. The Blazers extend their winning streak to 10 in a row. They are now 12-2 overall, and are ranked with the NBA’s elite alongside the Spurs and the Pacers, both 12-1.
Portland lost their best offensive player of the night Wesley Matthews (23 points on 8-9 shooting) and their best bench player Mo Williams to ejections after a scuffle broke out in the third quarter. Someone needed to step up.
That someone was LaMarcus Aldridge. He went for 30 and 21 with 3 blocks, 3 steals, and 3 assists, and was the conduit through which all Blazer offense flowed for a crucial spell in the fourth quarter. He was dominating on both ends, and drew Andrew Bogut’s fourth and fifth fouls. It was a sight to behold. He became the first NBA player with 30 points, 21 boards, and 3 blocks and steals since David Robinson in 1992. He is also the only Blazer in franchise history with three 30-20 games.
Damian Lillard had a rough night, but fought hard and stepped up when it counted, finishing with 20 and 9 assists. Notably, he fullbacked directly into Andrew Bogut’s chest, knocking the Warriors center over and drawing the foul. This was immediately after the fight that got three people (Wesley Matthews, Mo Williams, and Draymond Green) ejected and a handful of technical given. A great way to set the tone for your team after such a major event.
Nobody else had amazing stats, but Batum was a force to be reckoned with, Freeland was disruptive in the best possible way, and Earl Watson performed admirably in his first performance as a Blazer, when the team needed minutes in Mo’s absence. One can only think about what will happen once those minutes go to C.J. McCollum.
The energy the Blazers gave after being down 14, after losing their best players, was astounding. They were involved and active on both ends of the floor, but particularly on defense. The Blazers got stop after important stop; an impregnable wall of “not in this house.” It was basketball nirvana.
The game started out fast and hot as you’d expect. The Blazers jumped to a 17-12 advantage after just 5 minutes. If they were to play at that pace for 48 minutes, the Blazers would score 163 points a game. If only.
Golden State clamped down on defense, and the Blazers went cold. The energy was there, but the Warriors surpassed it. The Warriors were up 1 at the end of the first quarter, 24-23.
Lopez had an insane putback thunderdunk (nearly jumping over Damian Lillard) at the start of the second. It was huge. But every time when Blazers pushed, Warriors pushed back, and their pushes were harder. Klay Thompson was lighting it up, Curry was having his way, and Lee looked smug as ever.
The Blazers got down 8 and called time. Harrison Barnes went through a sturdy yet non-adaptive defense. The Blazers couldn’t execute. Curry blew by Lillard and Lopez just stood and stared. The Warriors went up 12.
The Blazers snapped to. Dame danced through. He got a rebound and unconsciously zipped a 50-foot cross and downcourt pass to Batum for the easy two. A putback by the Blazers was answered by a bailout call on Batum for the Warriors and-1, and Bogut stuffed a Lillard dunk attempt. You liked the effort, but Portland was down 49-54 at the half.
The Warriors started the second half by breaking it open, scoring 19 points in 4 minutes and leaving the Blazers with a 56-70 deficit. Klay Thompson was a wrecking crew, but he picked up his fourth foul with 5 minutes left in the third. Wesley Matthews caught fire again. His three cut it to 8, but the Warriors kept punching back.
Then a fight broke out.
Bogut took exception to Freeland locking him up on a rebound. Mo Williams screamed in, and Bogut reached to shove him. Then it was on.
When all was said and done, Mo Williams was ejected for his involvement, Wesley Matthews got his second technical and was ejected; LaMarcus Aldridge and Joel Freeland were given technicals. For the Warriors, Draymond Green was ejected and Andrew Bogut got a technical.
The result was that the Warriors 8-point lead was extended to 10 with the ball, and the Blazers were left without the services of both their best offensive player and their 6th man.
Lillard responded by barreling into Bogut, drawing the foul and sending the Warrior’s center sprawling, as previously mentioned. The tone started to shift. Klay Thompson, being aggressive, picked up his fifth foul by hacking Aldridge and putting him at the line, where he hit both, warmed up his shot, and gave a preview of what would happen a whole heck of a lot in the fourth.
The Blazers showed some good defense, Lillard splashed a triple, the Warriors threw it away, and Lillard iso’ed at the top of the key to hit another three. The Blazers found themselves down just 81-84 going into the fourth.
Lillard kept dancing, showing some quick footwork and micro-changes in direction. He got to the rim, the blazers defended on the other end, and Lillard used his reputation to get some room for LaMarcus down low, and he drew an and-one rolling into the lane for the push hook.
The game was tied, and they went back and forth. LaMarcus pounded it inside even after Bogut came back in, drawing Bogut’s fourth foul. He missed both, but he got his own rebound and was fouled AGAIN. This time he hit both, tying the game with 9 minutes left. At this point, Aldridge had 19 and 18, and was just getting started.
Aldridge then drew the fifth foul on Bogut. Aldridge knocked down his pair to go 10-12 from the line, pulling the Blazers even again at 92-92 with 8:30 left.
Foul trouble was a problem for both teams, especially considering the technicals and ejections. That meant Earl “Not The Pearl” Watson, seeing his first playing time of the season, and he did his best, boarding an Aldridge miss and setting up the Blazers to put them up 2. The Warriors then tried to take advantage of a Thompson mismatch on Watson, but it failed. The Blazers couldn’t convert, but held again, feeding Aldridge endlessly. He touched it on every possession, even if he didn’t shoot.
Aldridge blocked at the other end. He got the shot and drew the foul on a very tough moving fadeaway long two with the Blazers up 4 and five and a half minutes left.
Amazing defense by Lillard drew Thompson’s 6th foul, a huge development considering he had 30 points off 10-13 shooting. Batum had some nice defense, and LaMarcus was fed again, continuing to bully the paint and get to the line at will.
It’s tough to overstate Aldridge’s impact in the fourth quarter: he was controlling it on both ends. It was a sight to behold. And in part because of his confidence, the Blazers were suddenly on fire. Lillard drove without hesitation and drew the foul, making both and putting the Blazers up 12.
The Blazers’ defense was suffocating. It was their best basketball of the season.
The Blazers had shot 13 fourth-quarter free throws to the Warriors zero with two minutes left, when David Lee stepped up and made 1 of 2. Aldridge provided some good fast break defense, went to the line to make one of two himself, and on their next possession was grabbed as he faded with the shot clock winding down, converting the and-one. Barton then got his first points of the season off Earl Watsons second assist of the season, and the Blazers brought home the hard-fought double-digit road victory.
The Blazers get a day off before facing the 3-9 Knicks On Monday at 7 p.m. at the Moda Center.
And remember, for the best deals on Portland Trail Blazers tickets, visit our friends at TiqIQ.com.