Damian Lillard

Warriors' mistakes doom any chance of win in Damian Lillard's big night

Warriors' mistakes doom any chance of win in Damian Lillard's big night

PORTLAND -- In the final minute of Monday's matchup against the Trail Blazers, Warriors guard Alec Burks hit two free throws to put the Warriors up three points and in position for their 11th victory.

But 10 seconds later, Blazers guard Damian Lillard made a 3-pointer  to tie the game. D'Angelo Russell then missed a contested 3-pointer, sending the game into an overtime in which the Warriors were outscored 16-11, prompting another loss for the NBA's worst team. 

For a unit with winning ambitions, they've become especially creative in fading in clutch moments. On a night Lillard needed a career-high and an extra session to beat the battered Warriors, Golden State sees the loss as a game botched by untimely mistakes. 

"It was a game that got away from us," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said following the 124-129 loss. 

Three hours before Kerr's declaration, a win seemed feasible. In the second quarter, the Warriors held the Blazers to just 27 percent from the field, taking a 12-point lead, despite playing with only eight players. As the Warriors succeeded, Alec Burks shined, scoring 33 points with seven rebounds and eight assists. Along the way, mistakes crippled chances to blow the game open. 

When the Warriors went up 44-35 with four minutes left in the half, Damion Lee fouled Lillard behind the 3-point line, prompting three free throws. Fifteen seconds later, Eric Paschall fouled Mario Hezonja, leading to two more free throws. By the end of the second quarter, a 10-point lead was cut to four.  

More troubling was Golden State's late-game execution. After taking a six-point lead in overtime, the Blazers ended the evening on a 14-3 run as Lillard swished in his 61st point with four seconds left. At night's end, the Blazers made 27 free throws, 16 of which came from Lillard, much to Kerr's chagrin. 

"The game was there for the taking," Kerr said. "You could feel it in the first half. That game was right there for us. You've got to be better. Our effort was good but our execution was not." 

Kerr's frustrations are legitimate and derive from a troubling trend. Of the team's last 11 losses, three have come despite the team leading in the fourth quarter. Dating back to last season, the Warriors have lost their last nine overtime games. 

Five days ago, the team lost to the Nuggets in overtime despite entering the fourth quarter with a 12-point lead. Over the final two quarters, Golden State was outscored 61-46. Six days before the loss to Denver, the Warriors were outscored 36-17 in the fourth quarter by the Clippers, losing their seventh straight.

Following his team's latest demise, Kerr passed blame around the locker room. 

"A lot of mistakes down the stretch in the second quarter and again down the stretch -- a lot at the end of the game and regulation and overtime," he said. "And I didn't help the guys much, I could've helped the guys out as well. It was a group effort. They're competing, they're playing together, they're playing hard. It's just frustrating."

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A silver lining in Golden State's troubles can be seen along its sidelines Friday evening. With franchise pillar Steph Curry in a suit and former All-Star Draymond Green on the end of the bench, the listless Warriors nearly pushed Portland to the brink. But, as Kerr and his team know well, success is measured by wins over development. 

"I think we played well," Warriors forward Marquese Chriss said. "There are little things that we can fix that might change the way that the game turned out. All we can do at this point is to learn from it and talk about it and try not to let it happen again." 

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 129-124 OT road loss to Blazers

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 129-124 OT road loss to Blazers


PORTLAND -- The Warriors and Blazers matchup has provided plenty of memorable moments in the last decade. 

Now, even with both teams out of the playoff picture, they provided another thriller Monday night, with the Blazers (19-26) winning 129-124 in overtime at Moda Center. 

Along the way, Oakland-native Damian Lillard scored career-high 61 points, overcoming a balanced offensive effort from Eric Paschall, Alec Burks and D'Angelo Russell. 

After Lillard hit a 3-pointer to force overtime, the Blazers outscored Golden State 16-11 in the extra session, capped by two free throws from Lillard to seal the loss. In a season defined by injury, Monday's loss provided several lessons for the young core.

Here are the takeaways from a loss that gives the Warriors a 10-35 record:

Burks shines

With Russell struggling early and the Warriors failing to make any 3-pointers in the first quarter, an offensive spark was needed. By the end of the night, Burks provided that, scoring 33 points, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out eight assists. 

Burks started early, scoring Golden State's first nine points of the contest, becoming the lone bright spot in a quarter the Warriors shot 32.1 percent from the field. Down the stretch, he hit timely shots to combat Lillard's huge night. 

The performance was on brand for Burks, who came into Monday's game averaging 16.4 points over his last eight games. With most of Golden State's reputable scoring options on the bench, Burks will need to continue his current level of play for the team to have a chance. 

Marquese Chriss flies around

For the last week, Chriss has been adjusting to life as a two-way player, skipping most practices to preserve his active days on the roster. On Monday, he showed little sign of rust, scoring 14 points and pulling down six rebounds. 

Chriss was especially good in the second quarter, scoring six points in seven minutes, helping the Warriors take a 12-point lead. As he's shown throughout the season,  Chriss can be a difference-maker, especially as a lob threat. Under his current contract, he can prove to be a long-term difference maker. At his current pace, he's on track to do so. 

What rookie wall?

Recently, Paschall has been hearing questions about the drop from his early-season performance, prompting murmurs that he's hitting a "rookie wall." In the last week, he's momentarily quelled the noise, providing another strong display against the Blazers.

In 42 minutes, he scored 22 points and secured 13 rebounds. Paschall was especially good in the third quarter, scoring 10 points during the stretch, helping the Warriors take a five-point lead into the fourth quarter. 

The performance was indicative of Paschall's recent play. Entering Monday's game, he averaged 17.3 points and 5.7 rebounds over his last three games. If his latest output was any indication, he looks to be right back on track in his rookie season.

Kings notes: Bogdan Bogdanovic out, draft misses and familiar faces


Kings notes: Bogdan Bogdanovic out, draft misses and familiar faces

PORTLAND -- After a rough showing Monday evening against the Chicago Bulls, the Sacramento Kings are in need of a bounce-back game Wednesday. They’ll take on the Portland Trail Blazers to kick off a four-game road trip that will include stops in San Antonio, Dallas and Houston over the next week.

The Blazers aren’t the same team that ran the Kings over in the first week of the season. They also aren’t the same team that Sacramento beat 107-99 in the second week of November. 

Coach Terry Stotts’ team continues to evolve after a surprisingly bad start to the season. They have added a marquee name in Carmelo Anthony and new faces are earning time in the rotation.

The Kings under head coach Luke Walton are making strides as well. After an 0-5 start to the season, they’ve posted an 8-6 record and they’ve climbed back into the chase for the postseason.

Here are five things to look for as the two teams prepare to face off Wednesday at the Moda Center.

Bogi is banged up

Walton’s crew is already banged up with the absence of De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley. Bogdan Bogdanovic is struggling with tightness in his left hamstring and has been ruled out for the game against Portland. The injury cost him a game last week and slowed him down considerably against the Bulls.

The third-year guard is averaging 14.8 points, 4.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game as the leader of the Kings’ second unit. If he can’t play against Portland, expect Yogi Ferrell and Justin James to take on a bigger role for Sacramento.

That Carmelo guy

After being left out of the league for almost a year, Anthony is back, signing a one-year league minimum deal that becomes fully guaranteed if he’s still on the roster on Jan. 7. Anthony instantly stepped into a starting role with the Blazers and is averaging 16.4 points and six rebounds in 30.3 minutes per game.

A 10-time All-Star, the 35-year-old Anthony is providing a third scorer behind Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. He’s looked better than expected, even winning a Western Conference Player of the Week award.

Old faces, new places

Portland has a group of former Kings bigs on their roster this season. Skal Labissiere is playing rotational minutes as a backup five, Anthony Tolliver is seeing time as a stretch four and Hassan Whiteside is anchoring the starting center position. Labissiere played together in Sacramento during the 2016-17 season. Whiteside was drafted by the Kings in 2010 and spent his first two seasons in the league in Sacramento.

In addition to Labissiere, Tolliver and Whiteside, Zach Collins and Gary Trent were both drafted by Sacramento and traded to Portland on draft night. Caleb Swanigan played for the Blazers for his first season and a half in the league and was acquired by the Kings in the trade that sent Labissiere to Portland. Harry Giles was drafted by Portland and traded to Sacramento on draft night with Justin Jackson for Collins.

What could have been

McCollum has found a home in Portland, spending his first seven seasons in the NBA playing alongside Lillard. The two form one of the most dynamic scoring backcourts in the league, but it almost didn’t work out this way.

The Kings brought McCollum in for three separate workouts during the phase leading up to the 2013 NBA Draft. McCollum has said multiple times that he believed that the Kings would select him with the seventh overall pick. At the last minute, Sacramento went a different direction, taking Ben McLemore instead and the rest is history. McCollum went to Portland with the 10th overall selection and has averaged over 20 points per game in each of the last five seasons.

During the 2012 draft, Lillard was on the board when the Kings selected at No. 5 overall. Like McCollum, there were strong indications the Kings would choose him on draft night, but Thomas Robinson fell out of the top four and the Kings changed their path. Lillard went with the sixth overall pick and has gone on to make four All-Star teams and has a career scoring average of 23.6 points per game.

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The Ultimate Equalizer

The Kings flew up to Portland on Tuesday afternoon and were settled into their hotel rooms with plenty of time to turn on the TV and watch the Blazers playing the Clippers in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. There is no word on what time the Trail Blazers made it back home after losing to the Clippers, but the Kings are the more rested team.