Jusuf Nurkic finally played Saturday night... and it seemed to give the Portland Trail Blazers a little spark. For a while, that spark turned into a raging fire as the Blazers jumped to leads as high as 16 points over the Golden State Warriors. But in the end, the Warriors doused that fire with solid fourth-quarter defense and timely shooting.
The end result was a 119-113 win that pushed Golden State into a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series that continues Monday night in Moda Center. CJ McCollum led the Trail Blazers with 32 points and Damian Lillard added 31. Steph Curry had 34 for the Warriors.
The lead seesawed throughout the fourth quarter as two seemingly tired teams traded punches. Portland's shooting percentage, over .500 most of the night, dipped and the Warriors' rose.
The Trail Blazers came out on fire – and the crowd was deep into it when Portland had an 11-3 lead as the Warriors called a timeout with 9:11 to go in the first quarter. Portland opened the game by hitting its first five shots from the field.
Nurkic, who received a thunderous ovation when introduced with the starting lineup, scored his first basket 2:26 into the game on a bank shot in the lane over Zaza Pachulia.
He left the floor at the 7:06 mark of the quarter and played about five minutes per quarter. He finished with two points, 11 rebounds and four assists in 17 minutes.
The Warriors withstood Portland’s opening salvo and crawled to within four points late in the quarter but the Trail Blazers held a 37-30 lead ater the first quarter behind Lillard’s 15 points, fueled by 3-for-4 shooting from three-point range.
Portland shot 57.7 percent from the field in the opening period and held Golden State to 38.5 percent. But the Blazers had seven turnovers over the first 12 minutes while the Warriors had but one.
In the second quarter Portland stretched the lead as high as 16 as Steph Curry and Klay Thompson struggled from the field for the Warriors.
Lillard and McCollum were the backbone of the Portland offense in the first half, combining for 39 points. The Blazers led 67-54 at halftime on the strength of 53 percent shooting. Portland also held a 29-14 rebound edge at halftime.
The lead ballooned to 16 again in the third but then the Warriors made one of their patented runs and closed to within 82-78 when the Blazers called for a timeout with 3:29 left in the third. Golden State turned up its defense and Portland had trouble getting open shots all of a sudden. By the end of the quarter the Blazers were clinging to an 88-87 lead.