Posted on February 15, 2018, by Travis Pulver
When it comes time for the All-Star break, everyone wants to go out the same way—with a win. Even if you are already out of the playoff race, it just makes you feel a little better while you’re enjoying a little time off. But for the Portland Trail Blazers, a win over the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night would be more than just a moral victory.
It would mean maintaining a spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
With Kevin Durant recording his first 50+ point night as a member of the Warriors, you’d think things must have gone Golden State’s way. Well—you’d be wrong.
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As has become common for the Warriors, a slow start saw them fall behind in the first quarter, 40-27. Portland would extend the lead to as much as 20-points in the second. But when the quarter came to an end the Trail Blazers were up by 12 points, 63-51.
At this point, we would normally see someone from the Warriors go nuts in the third quarter. Golden State would erase the deficit because of said person and might even take a small lead. Their opponent would fight back in the fourth but would not be able to slow down the Warriors.
Golden State would win—but it didn’t quite happen that way.
The Warriors did play more inspired offense in the third quarter. But they were only able to cut the deficit down to five points, 92-87, heading into the fourth quarter. Steph Curry erased the deficit and tied up the game with a three-pointer, 99-99, at the 7:10 mark. But the Warriors couldn’t take over the lead.
They kept the game close the rest of the way, but when Damian Lillard made a three-pointer with 5:05 left to play, he gave Portland a 109-101 lead. Golden State would pull back within three, but Portland was able to hold them off and earn the win, 123-117.
“Going into the break, how tight the standings are in the West, needing to come up with a big win, and we came up with it. So, it’s probably our best performance, if not the best then definitely top two or top three,” Portland guard Damian Lillard said after the game (ESPN).
Lillard led the way for the Trail Blazers with 44 points on the night. C.J. McCollum helped out with 29 points, and Jusuf Nurkic chipped in a double-double, 17 points and 13 rebounds.
“Teams get up to play us. They want to beat us, and they give us their best,” Warriors forward Kevin Durant said after the game (ESPN). “Some guys are going to have great nights against us. They did tonight.”
Along with Durant’s 50, the Warriors got 17-points out of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Draymond Green chipped in 16.
Both teams are done until after the All-Star break. Golden State will take the court again on Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers. Portland will get an extra day off before facing the Utah Jazz.
Steve Kerr will finally get to take the break he’s been talking about in recent weeks. While most of his starters are heading to the All-Star game, he’s headed to Hawaii. But with the loss, the team will not go into the break as the No.1 team in the NBA.
That honor now belongs to the Houston Rockets. With their win over Sacramento, they improved to 44-13 while the loss drops the Warriors to 44-14. The Rockets now own the best record in the NBA by half of a game.