Thursday's NBA playoffs: Warriors rally from 15 down, hold off Blazers
Oakland, Calif. — These Golden State Warriors have long been able to score in fabulous, jaw-dropping flurries. Down by eight to the Portland Trail Blazers at home with 4½ minutes to go, they needed every last burst, perfect pass, driving layup and dunk.
"Our experience really paid off for us tonight having a bunch of guys who just won't quit," said Draymond Green, who was right smack in the middle of it all.
Stephen Curry scored 37 points, and the Warriors rallied from a 15-point halftime deficit before holding off Portland on the final possession for a 114-111 win Thursday night and a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr insisted his team stole this game with a sensational final few minutes and another, familiar third-quarter outburst.
Counterpart Terry Stotts of the Trail Blazers considered it a "lost opportunity" on the road.
CJ McCollum missed a driving jumper with 32 seconds left and Green scored on the other end for the Warriors, giving Portland one final chance with 12.3 seconds to go. Andre Iguodala then blocked a 3-point attempt by Damian Lillard on the left wing.
"They stole it, but they earned it down the stretch," McCollum said.
Seth Curry, Steph's little brother, scored 16 points and put Portland ahead on a 3-pointer with 1:03 left before Kevon Looney's dunk on the other end put Golden State back on top at 112-111. Seth tried to "distract" his brother at the free throw line late, or so the story went from Steph, who called Seth a "pest" on defense.
"This was like the coolest experience I think I've ever had playing against him. You talk about the stage, he was amazing tonight," Stephen Curry said. "For my parents, I know we've talked about it the whole series, these last two games it's probably nerve-wracking as heck for them. It worked out perfectly tonight. He played well and we won."
Stephen Curry shot 11 for 22 and made all 11 of his free throws — three with 2:01 left — to post his third straight 30-point performance while Splash Brother Klay Thompson needed a half to heat up, scoring 13 of his 24 points in the Warriors' 39-point third period. It was reminiscent of those old third-quarter runs that have defined this group.
McCollum scored 22 points for Portland and Lillard overcame a slow start to add 23 points and 10 assists as the Blazers looked far more in sync than in a 116-94 defeat two days earlier.
Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is Saturday night at Portland.
"We did play a much better game at both ends of the floor tonight. We've got to take that into Game 3," Stotts said. "It is a lost opportunity, no question. We had a chance to get one here on the road."
Green made a pretty bounce pass through the paint to a cutting Iguodala for a dunk with 3:06 left to make it 108-105, then Green assisted on a layup by Looney the next possession.
"Draymond's been special all playoffs," Thompson said. "... When he goes, we go. He was tremendous tonight."
Green had 16 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and five blocked shots playing with foul trouble. His seven straight playoff games with at least 10 rebounds are a career high.
"We've been here before," Green said. "When you're on a run like we're currently in, you've seen everything. Down eight points with what, four minutes to go, or whatever it was, just got to keep going, because we know we can erase eight points."
The Warriors missed Kevin Durant for a third straight game because of a strained right calf and he isn't likely to return at all this round.
Curry scored Golden State's first eight points of the third to get his team back within 69-58 then Thompson hit two straight 3s.
The Blazers had built a 65-50 halftime lead, capitalizing on 10 Warriors turnovers for 18 points.
Then two of the top backcourts in the Western Conference went at it in an entertaining final two quarters. The game was tied at 89 to start the fourth.
The Warriors already got past James Harden and Chris Paul in the last round — now it's McCollum and Lillard standing in the way of a fifth straight trip to the NBA Finals.
Portland showed it made adjustments from Game 1 and brought it on both ends from the opening tip after the Blazers had regularly left Curry wide open on the perimeter off the pick-and-roll and he scored 36 points while matching his postseason high with nine 3-pointers.
"We've got to bring that same energy at home," McCollum said, "understand that this is the first time in 19 years we've been in the conference final."
Durant will miss at least Games 3 and 4, scheduled to be re-examined by doctors in another week. That means he wouldn't be expected to return until the NBA Finals if Golden State advances.
Durant was re-evaluated Thursday and is not yet ready for on-court work — a necessary step before the two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP can return to game action.