NBA News Wire
Warriors’ surprising defense stymies Blazers
OAKLAND, Calif. — Golden State Warriors All-Star Stephen Curry says there is nothing worse than grabbing the box score after a game and seeing he scored 38 points … in a loss.
Thus, it wasn’t his impressive point total that caught the guard’s eye after the Warriors’ 103-88 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night.
It was the visitors’ season low for points that made the night special for Curry and his Golden State teammates.
“We can score the ball,” said Curry, noting that the Warriors totaled 116, 120 and 121 in three recent losses. “It (stinks) to come in the locker room and on the box score everybody had a great night and we lost the ballgame.
“When we do what we did tonight, it makes what we can do offensively even more special.”
After surrendering 121 or more points in three of their previous five games and then watching the Trail Blazers put up 55 in the first half, the Warriors outscored Portland 37-10 over a 15-minute, 54-second stretch bridging the third and fourth quarters to take command and snap a two-game losing streak.
“Coach (Mark) Jackson challenged each and every one of us to find that next gear, especially on the defensive end,” said Curry, who was playing his 300th career NBA game. “We did what we needed to do.”
The Trail Blazers, who were playing the second half of a back-to-back after beating the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night, entered the game as the league’s highest scoring team at 109.5 points per game. They were held under 100 points just three times in their previous 31 contests, and they failed to score 90 for the first time all season.
“Rough game,” Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “Golden State did a nice job with their defense, but it’s just one of those nights where we just didn’t have enough at the offensive end.”
After trailing by as many as seven in the first half and 55-54 at halftime, the Warriors tightened the defensive screws in the third quarter, limiting the Trail Blazers to 12 points on 3-for-20 shooting.
Golden State (27-18) also forced seven Portland turnovers in the quarter, during which the Warriors outscored the visitors 22-12 to open a 76-67 advantage.
The defensive dominance didn’t end there. Power forward David Lee had two baskets as Golden State opened the fourth period on a 15-2 run that broke the game open at 91-69 with 7:18 to play.
“Just what the doctor ordered,” Jackson said. “Tonight the defense was sharp and locked in. We battled. We competed. We made multiple-effort plays, and we continued it all night.”
The Trail Blazers wound up shooting a season-low 33.7 percent (28 of 83), including just 22.9 percent (eight of 35) in the second half.
“It was just one of those nights where I couldn’t get going and I didn’t find a rhythm,” said Trail Blazers All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who suffered through a 2-for-14 game. “I just missed shots. I got to my spots and I missed shots.”
Curry led the Warriors with 38 points, hitting 13 of 23 shots overall and five of eight 3-point attempts.
Lee (17 points, 12 rebounds) and forward Andre Iguodala (12 points, 10 rebounds) backed Curry with double-doubles, and shooting guard Klay Thompson added 17 points.
Shooting guard Wesley Matthews scored 21 points to lead Portland (33-12).
Trail Blazers stars Damian Lillard and Aldridge both struggled big-time. Lillard missed 11 of his 16 shots on a 16-point night, while Aldridge managed a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double despite his rough shooting.
Aldridge did extend his streak of double-figure scoring to 67 games, but he didn’t collect his 10th point until making a free throw with 4:04 to go. He poured in 30 points in a win over the Warriors earlier this season.
“The last time here, he was only 7-for-21, but he got offensive rebounds and he made a bunch of free throws,” Lee recalled. “I just tried to work every possession and tried my best to keep him off the boards tonight.”
Playing their fifth game in seven nights, the Trail Blazers fought to the end despite trailing by 22 in the fourth quarter. They got within 94-85 on a pair of free throws by Matthews with 2:56 to play, but Curry capped his big night with a jumper and a 3-pointer to provide a cushion the Warriors embraced the rest of the way.
NOTES: Despite having lost 113-101 in Oakland on Nov. 23, the Warriors now own 15 wins in their past 18 meetings with the Trail Blazers at Oracle Arena. … Trail Blazers All-Star PF LaMarcus Aldridge had 30 points and 21 rebounds in each of his previous two games against the Warriors, including the Nov. 23 contest. … Aldridge has a .350 career shooting percentage (57 of 163) in 11 games at Oracle Arena. … The Trail Blazers shot worse than 40 percent for the first time this season. … The 15-point margin of defeat matched Portland’s largest of the season, equaling a 116-101 loss to the Houston Rockets on Nov. 5. … The Trail Blazers started the lineup of PG Damian Lillard, SG Wesley Matthews, SF Nicolas Batum, Aldridge and C Robin Lopez for the 45th consecutive time. They are the only team in the league that has used the same starting lineup in every game.
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