In way only he can, Draymond electrifies Warriors to Game 1 win vs Blazers

In way only he can, Draymond electrifies Warriors to Game 1 win vs Blazers

OAKLAND -- Three quarters into Game 1 of a postseason they’re built to win, the Warriors, at home, before 20,000 roaring maniacs dressed in bright gold T-shirts, were caught up in a tie game with a 15-point underdog.

Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant combined for 22 points in the third quarter, and still the eighth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers, without their only imposing big man and relying on only two players, would not back down.

With the fourth quarter looming, Warriors coach Steve Kerr formulated a plan he hoped would lift his team to victory.

Code name: Draymond.

It worked. Like magic. With Curry and Durant on the bench, Draymond Green and his crew entered, and Green began waving the kind of defensive spell rarely seen on a basketball court, rudely informing Portland there would be no upset on Easter Sunday in Oakland.

Barely four minutes later, the Warriors had their first double-digit lead of the game, parlaying it into a 121-109 win in Game 1 of this first-round Western Conference playoff series.

“I felt like we finally had a little traction defensively,” Kerr said of his personnel decision to start the fourth quarter. “And also, KD was going really well in the third quarter. He was scoring, so we didn't want to take him out.

“So it made perfect sense to go to Draymond to start the fourth, and he and David West, I thought, anchored our defense really well.”

West anchored the defense. Green electrified it.

“In the fourth quarter, that unit that was out there to start the quarter got a lot of stops and got the crowd into it, got the momentum back on our side,” Curry said.

“We had six turnovers in the fourth,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “Draymond had an impact on the game at the rim and in the paint.”

Green opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, giving the Warriors a 91-88 lead they never lost. Playing all but 80 seconds of the fourth, Green produced 10 points on one end, three blocks and two steals on the other.

He blocked a short jumper by CJ McCollum (41 points) that led to a Klay Thompson bucket, giving the Warriors a 99-90 lead with 8:19 remaining.

Green swiped the ball from Damian Lillard (34 points) that led to a pair of free throws by Ian Clark, putting the Warriors up 101-90 with 7:57 left.

Twenty-two seconds later, Green blocked an Evan Turner jumper, forcing a Portland turnover.

Green added one more steal, and another block -- a spectacular denial of Lillard at the rim -- that led to a Durant layup and a 109-99 lead with 4:39 remaining.

What Green did not do was part the sea or turn water to wine. He merely cleared Oracle Arena of all the tension built up through the first three quarters.

“Draymond was amazing,” Kerr said. “He made some tremendous defensive plays. He made threes. He rebounded the ball. He had nine assists. I mean, he played a game that I'm not sure anybody else in the league is capable of, honestly.

“Who else can do what Draymond just did tonight? He's so unique and so important to us. He was phenomenal.”

Green’s final line: 19 points (6-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-4 from deep, and 4-of-7 from the line), game-high 12 rebounds, game-high nine assists, game-high five blocks and game-high three steals.

He played a team-high 27 minutes and submitted a plus-15 total was, of course, the best on either team.

No two plays demonstrated Green’s impact more than the block on Lillard, which sent away Portland’s All-Star, and a similar at-the-rim rejection of Blazers big man Noah Vonleh in the third quarter. Both blocks turned the Warriors bench into a flash mob, while sending the crowd into hysterics.

“When you block it at the rim, it's a little different because that's one of those plays where you're within a half inch to a centimeter of being dunked on,” Green explained. “So when you actually come up with the block, it is a bit more excitement.

“When you're coming across and you get a swat, that's usually weak side. You come across the top and you get a swat on a guy. But at the rim it's mano y mano, man against man. Who is going to win the battle?”

Green won the battles, all of them that mattered, allowing the Warriors to win the game and take a 1-0 series lead.

The series isn’t over, but Green curtly told the Blazers to go elsewhere in search of a comeback.


Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

Four things we learned while Steph Curry dealt with fourth ankle injury

UPDATE (2:40pm PT on Tuessday): Steph Curry has been cleared for full team practices with the goal of playing this week, the Warriors announced.


The Warriors’ usual late-spring sprint toward the postseason, already slowed to a limp, deteriorated into a forlorn crawl Monday night in San Antonio as they were losing for the fourth time in six games.

Draymond Green, the only “healthy” member of the team’s All-Star quartet, left the game in the second quarter with a pelvic contusion and did not return.

Though Green said after this 89-75 loss to the Spurs that he doesn’t consider this a serious injury, it’s abundantly clear reinforcements can’t arrive soon enough.

Stephen Curry, a profoundly superior reinforcement, may return as soon as Friday.

Curry’s tender right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which the Warriors will establish a timeline for his return. He could, according to team and league sources, be back in the lineup Friday night when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena.

That would provide a massive injection of talent for the Warriors, who lost of three games during a four-day stretch in which they were forced to rely heavily on reserves and role players.

“We’re already shorthanded and then we lose another All-Star, the glue to our team, Draymond, at halftime,” said Quinn Cook, who in scoring 73 points over the past three games did an admirable job of trying of producing Curry-like numbers.

As good as Cook was on Monday, scoring 20 points, it’s a bit much to ask Cook to lead the Warriors past a San Antonio team fighting to extend its 20-year streak of consecutive playoff appearances.

The Warriors are built around their four All-Stars -- Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Curry and Green. They usually can withstand the loss of one, and they can often are OK missing two. But when it’s three, and possibly four, the defending champs are a home without a foundation.

As the Warriors were losing four of six games, and two of the last three, we have learned four things:

1) Cook is an NBA keeper.

The point guard from Duke, who turns 25 on Friday, has proved not only that he belongs in the league but also that he can survive in the rotation of a championship contender. He’s considerably more effective than Pat McCaw. Even if everybody were healthy, it would be hard, maybe foolish, to deny Cook minutes.

2) Kevon Looney continues to smooth the rough edges of his game.

The Warriors opened the season uncertain what they could expect from a forward that has undergone surgery on both hips. Month after month, though, he has done most everything they could have asked. He operates well in their switching defense, is effective in traffic and now he’s blocking shots and raining jumpers. At this rate, the Warriors would be delighted to have him back next season.

3) David West and Jordan Bell are in search of rhythm.

West was reliably excellent, at both ends, prior to missing five games with a cyst on his right arm. Since returning last Friday, there have been visible signs of rust. He’ll be OK in time, but at 37 likely needs another game or two to rediscover his touch.

Bell missed 14 games with a left ankle sprain, returned briefly, sustained a sprain of his right ankle and missed three more games. In the three games since his return, he has yet to look comfortable. It’s not just rust; it’s also the team around him. He’s at his best when supporting the stars. It may take him a while before he shines again.

4) Postseason minutes may be scarce for Nick Young

The Warriors hired Young to score while not embarrassing himself on defense and he has had good moments on both ends. But his inconsistency -- partly attributed to unspectacular conditioning -- grates on coaches and sometimes teammates. As much as he wants to enjoy the postseason, he’s playing his way toward an insignificant role unless injuries dictate otherwise.

Source: Warriors, Curry aiming for Friday return


Source: Warriors, Curry aiming for Friday return

UPDATE (2:25pm PT on Tuesday): The Warriors announced that following an examination by the team's medical staff, Steph Curry has been cleared to participate in full team practices beginning on Wednesday. The goal is for Curry to "play later this week."

The Warriors return to action Friday when they host the Hawks. They face the Jazz on Sunday in Oakland.


The Warriors have been without Stephen Curry for six full games and all but the first two minutes of a seventh. The last three were less out of medical necessity than an abundance of caution.

Curry could, however, return as soon as Friday when the Atlanta Hawks visit Oracle Arena, multiple sources disclosed to NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday night. ESPN, citing league sources, was first to report the team’s plan.

The two-time MVP’s right ankle is scheduled to be reevaluated Tuesday, after which time a firm return date is expected.

Curry was physically able to play -- and actually pushed to return -- last weekend, according to league sources. But the Warriors, looking ahead to the playoffs and seeing diminished value in the remaining regular-season games, opted to continue rehabilitation in hopes of maximizing support for the area around his ankle.

The Warriors have described Curry’s injury not as a sprain but a “tweak,” implying less severity.

Though the Warriors won the game in which Curry was hurt, 110-107 over the Spurs on March 8, they have since lost four of six, including 89-75 on Monday in San Antonio.

The Warriors arrived early Tuesday morning and won’t practice Tuesday afternoon and are contemplating skipping an official practice on Wednesday.

The Warriors, averaging a league-leading 115.5 points per game this season, saw that figure drop to 103.3 during Curry’s six-game absence.