PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers' benches continued their series-long tug-of-war in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals on Saturday night at Moda Center.
Golden State's second unit scored 33 points in a 110-99 win, and Portland's did the same. The respective benches ended the contest in the same position they entered it: dead-even in combined points. Some of the Blazers have had the best individual scoring performances, but as a whole, no bench has an edge in offensive output through three games. That didn't look likely during Saturday's first half.
After point guard Damian Lillard played the entirety of the first quarter, Blazers coach Terry Stotts trotted out a lineup comprised entirely of reserves Seth Curry, Evan Turner, Rodney Hood, Zach Collins and Enes Kanter -- who gave way to big man Meyers Leonard in the starting lineup -- to start the second. A two-point lead to start the quarter grew to seven by the time CJ McCollum checked in for Hood 3:15 into the quarter.
By the time Lillard checked back in nearly halfway through the quarter, Portland led by 13.
"You know, the first half, everybody contributed," Stotts said Saturday after the Blazers' loss. "The starters, the bench, different combinations really worked well. You know, if you score 66 points in a half, a lot of people contributed that."
Curry stayed on with four of the Blazers' starters, and Portland led by as many as 18 points. He, along with Turner, Collins and Kanter, finished the second quarter plus-11. Warriors reserves Kevon Looney and Alfonzo McKinnie, meanwhile, were the only Golden State bench players who had an even plus-minus.
The second half was a reversal of fortune.
For one, the Warriors -- led by Draymond Green's dominance on both ends of the floor -- stormed back to take the lead in the third quarter. Stotts didn't roll out any all-reserve lineups, instead keeping Lillard or McCollum on the court with the second unit. Lillard played the entirety of the third quarter and he re-entered Game 4 after exactly two-and-a-half minutes on the bench and the score tied at 84.
Just 2:21 later, Warriors reserves Quinn Cook, Kevon Looney, Jonas Jerebko and Shaun Livingston checked out of the game with a 90-84 lead.
Still, the Blazers were within striking distance, and McCollum had chances to cut the deficit even further. Each of Portland's bench players finished the second half with a negative plus-minus, but McCollum said the starters' finish was what cost the Blazers.
"You know, we just didn't make shots," McCollum said Saturday. "They got out and ran and they had a little bit of momentum based on the run they went on but I thought the second unit did a great job. We have to do a better job as a starting unit of closing games."
The Warriors' defense on McCollum and Lillard paid off in Game 3, as it has throughout the Western Conference finals. With Steph Curry shooting the lights out and Green's two-way superiority, Golden State hasn't needed its bench to do much more than match Portland's.
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Thus, it's unsurprising Stotts didn't fault his reserves for the second-half swing. The reasons his Blazers find themselves in a three-games-to-none hole in the best-of-seven series go far beyond bench contributions.
"I don't know how much it was their bench," Stotts said of the Warriors after Game 4. "You know, they just -- they are a championship team. They have been a championship team and they have a style of play, and they continue to play at a certain level, and the second half, we just didn't match that.
"Whether it was their bench players or their starters, they didn't miss a beat."