OAKLAND – The first words out of Steve Kerr’s mouth in the post-game press conference Thursday night were, “We stole that game.”
You could certainly make the case that Portland should have defeated Kerr’s Golden State Warriors, but it’s not really a steal when someone leaves the keys in the car with the motor running, then opens the door and invites you behind the wheel.
Before losing 114-111 to the Warriors, the Trail Blazers held a 17-point lead in the first half. They led by 15 at halftime before a horrendous third quarter left them tied.
But they still built an eight-point lead when Meyers Leonard hit a three-point field goal with 4:28 left in the game. But Portland would hit just one more basket the remainder of the game, a Seth Curry three with 1:03 to go that lifted the Blazers into a one-point lead.
This was a game that was right there for the Trail Blazers to win and they didn’t. And it was just as much their fault as anything the Warriors did.
Portland got big contributions from its bench. Curry scored 16 points and went 3-3 from the field in the final quarter. Rodney Hood scored 12 and Leonard, who didn’t even play in Game One, played all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter and finished with seven points, six rebounds and two assists.
The Trail Blazers made 18 three-point field goals and Golden State hit just nine and that stat alone would decide about 90 percent of NBA games. In other words, the Blazers had 27 more points from long range than Golden State.
But the third quarter, when the Warriors forced five turnovers and turned them into a whopping 13 points, vaulted Golden State back in the game.
Then, in the deciding fourth quarter, Portland managed to make just 8 of its 23 shots, including only 5 of 14 from long range. And the Warriors outrebounded the Blazers 16-9 in the final quarter.
Damian Lillard went 2-6 in the fourth quarter and CJ McCollum was 0-6. They combined to go 1-9 from three over those 12 minutes, too.
And the Warriors gave Portland fits with the Steph Curry-Draymond Green pick-and-roll and allowed some layups.
And that went a long way toward the Warriors’ “steal” of Game 2 of the series.
Lillard had an opportunity for a game-tying three-point shot at the end but couldn’t get it off against Andre Iguodala, on what looked to be a steal but was officially called a blocked shot in the play-by-play.
“Honestly, we were out of timeouts,” Terry Stotts said. “Just it wasn’t – we just got to get a shot up. You know, get him the ball. It’s a tough situation to be in. We couldn’t necessarily run a play but I thought he did the best job he could as far as trying to get a three up.”
Lillard maintained he was fouled on the play.
“You know, I got the ball,” Lillard said. “I think they knew we needed a three. I think it was under 10 seconds by the time I got a catch, and a quick two – we didn’t have any timeouts left. I don’t think that would have done much for us.
“We knew we were going to go for the three, so I was just trying to get space to get a three up. I know it’s a tough position for the referees to be in to make a call at that point of the game. I tried to get a little bit of space the first time and he grabbed my arm and I lost the ball a little bit. I regained it and I was going to shoot it again.
“But he got his hand on the ball.
“For me, as the offensive player, I felt like it was contact. There was a lot of contact. But obviously, the ref is not going to decide the game or jump in at that point. You know, so they – good defensive play.”
Iguodala explained his side of the play:
“Well, you look at the time and situation, up three, so the one thing that you don’t want to do is give up a three. You actually can take risks outside the three-point line and be extra aggressive. The key is not to give that up. If the guy drives by you, then you still have the lead. When you look at it that way, it wasn’t that good of a play.
“I just take odds on what you want to do and if the odds are in your favor, then for something like that to happen outside the three-point line.”
McCollum has a philosophical way of looking at games like this one – a pretty unbiased summary in most cases.
“I think it’s just a make-or-miss league,” he said. “We got some good looks. I personally had some good looks. I had an open three I missed, and I had a floater I missed late.
“They played good defense, but I can live with the shots I missed every day of the week and I think, you know, offensively we had some pretty good possessions.
“We just didn’t finish them.”
And didn’t finish the game well, either.
They have two more chances, next up at Moda Center – Saturday and Monday.
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