SAN FRANCISCO – The Trail Blazers certainly aren't the first ones to leave their hearts in San Francisco. But in this case, the Portland hearts were stolen by the Golden State Warriors. And these weren't even the REAL Warriors.
It was a night when guys such as Eric Paschall, Ky Bowman, Omari Spellman, and Damion Lee gave the Trail Blazers fits. The Warriors – a team with zero players on the court who were on the team’s 15-man roster in last year’s NBA Finals – took it to the Trail Blazers in a game that was a heroic win for the home team and an embarrassment to the Trail Blazers.
The 127-118 Golden State triumph was a beautiful thing to the battered and bruised Warriors and a loss so ugly to the Blazers that I’m sure they wish they could just walk away and forget it. But you can’t unsee something like this. It was a brutal exhibition for a team with championship aspirations.
But let Portland Coach Terry Stotts give you his description:
“Our defense was very disappointing tonight,” he said tersely. “I give credit to Golden State. They played harder than us, they out-executed us, they out-coached us – they deserved to win. We didn’t play well enough to win a game. We didn’t play hard enough to win and didn’t play together enough to win.”
Over and over, the Trail Blazers said the same thing about the under-manned Warriors:
“Everybody is in this league for a reason.”
True. But the reason a lot of the Golden State players are in the league is that the Warriors have had so many injuries they flat-out ran out of players. This was just their second win in seven tries. They have been outscored by 11.67 points per game and were losing games even before Steph Curry, Draymond Green and D’Angelo Russell got hurt.
Eric Paschall, a second-round pick playing in the sixth NBA game of his career, hit 11 of his 19 shots, had 36 points -- the most scored by an NBA rookie this season -- and 13 rebounds. Ky Bowman, an undrafted rookie, hit 9 of his 14 shots, had 19 points and eight assists. Lee, a journeyman whose brother-in-law is Steph Curry, added 16.
And if you had those three guys in your fantasy league you must have been blindly drawing names out of a hat at your draft.
Portland came out as if merely showing up was going to be enough. The Blazers opened the game going to Whiteside inside and it was effective, if not necessarily efficient. Whiteside finished with 22 points on 10-14 shooting and had 11 rebounds but was also a game-worst, minus-15 while on the court.
Lillard tried to pull his team out of its funk with a 39-point game but while he and Whiteside combined to go 25-40 from the field, the rest of the team was 22-65.
“Tough loss,” Lillard said. “They competed from the beginning. They played hard, they moved the ball really well, they played like a team that wanted to win. We got outplayed, start to finish. We had some moments in the game, but we played like we just thought we were going to march in here and win the game.”
For years, it was no embarrassment to lose to the Warriors. Everybody did.
This, though, was different.