Warriors weather Blazers storm, take 2-0 series lead
SAN FRANCISCO, USA – Steph Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 61 points but Golden State needed a huge collective effort in the endgame as the Warriors escaped the Portland Trail Blazers, 114-111, to take a 2-0 series lead in the NBA Western Conference finals in Oakland on Thursday, May 16 (Friday, May 17, Philippine time).
Andre Iguodala’s huge stop on Damian Lillard’s last attempt sealed it for the Warriors, right after a Draymond Green bucket off a Curry assist capped the defending champions’ 14-3 closeout with 12.3 seconds left.
Kevon Looney buried the go-ahead basket with 53.1 seconds remaining, a slam from a Green feed that gave the Warriors a 112-111 edge in a pulsating battle at the Oracle Arena.
“We dodged a bullet for sure,” said coach Steve Kerr after the Warriors completed a comeback from 17 points down.
"We stole that game. I thought they outplayed us for much of the night, the majority of the night. But we've been here before.
"I think our experience helped us. We've done this a few times before. But we stole it tonight for sure. They outplayed us."
Curry led the Warriors with 37 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists, while Thompson sparked the Warriors’ third-quarter turnaround to finish with 24 points.
14-3 run to close the game helps give the @warriors a 2-0 series lead over Portland in the Western Conference Finals!— NBA (@NBA) May 17, 2019
Game 3: Saturday (5/18), 9pm/et, ESPN#StrengthInNumbers #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/AQssuAV1g8
Green delivered another all-around game of 16 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 blocks for the Warriors, who were still trailing by 8 points, 100-108, in the last 4 minutes.
Looney shot a perfect 6-of-6 from the field to finish with 14 points and 7 rebounds and lead the Warriors’ solid bench performance.
Jordan Bell also cracked double digits with 11 points.
“That’s what you need in the playoffs – you have to have multiple guys playing at a high level,” said Kerr.
The Trail Blazers had surged into a 17-point early in the second half, 62-45, only for the Warriors to hit back with a sustained points onslaught.
The Warriors erupted for 39 points in the 3d quarter to haul themselves back into the contest but Portland, led by Damian Lillard, refused to roll over.
A Meyers Leonard three-pointer put Portland 8 points clear late in the 4th but Curry then seized control.
Three nerveless free throws from Curry edged Golden State into a 110-108 lead, before a three-pointer for Portland from Curry's younger brother Seth made it 111-110 for the visitors.
Looney's alley-oop dunk shot put Golden State back in front at 112-111 with 52 seconds remaining before a Draymond Green layup with 12 seconds left effectively sealed the win.
"We knew they were going to come out swinging," Curry said.
"They gave us a great punishing. That 3rd quarter was unbelievable. It was a true testament of everyone on the team."
It was another huge performance from Curry, who has stepped into the void created by Kevin Durant's injury absence to deliver back-to-back 30-point games in the opening two games of the series.
Kerr said the Warriors – who are chasing a third straight championship and a fourth in 5 seasons – had been expecting a backlash from Portland following their win in Game 1 on Tuesday.
"They've had two days to stew on the first game and make their adjustments. So we knew it was coming," Kerr said. "We didn't find our edge until the 3rd quarter. But the NBA game is a long, long game.
"And with our team we always feel like we have a chance. And we kept playing tonight and we got it done."
Lillard led the scoring for Portland with 23 points while CJ McCollum added 22 points. – With a report from Agence France-Presse