And then, there was a block that changed it all.
The Trail Blazers and Warriors showdown did not disappoint on Wednesday night as the two teams went at each other figuratively, and then literally in the final quarter.
Portland came out victorious 129-107 to even up the season series at 2-2.
The run down block made by Trail Blazers backup center Zach Collins was what the players called a “game changer” and it was obvious that block on Damion Lee with 7:35 remaining in the game was a big momentum swing for the Blazers.
“That play was big and then he made other effort plays, emotional plays that fired up the team and the crowd,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said postgame.
"I got blocked and I was running back down, I picked up head and the dude was going to the rim and I thought I could get there, so I just went up and gave it my best shot,” Collins said.
Less than four seconds later, the Blazers backup center drew an offensive foul after Klay Thompson went to the basket. Collins and Thompson exchanged words and there was a little shoving going on. Both were hit with offsetting technical fouls.
Damian Lillard knew how valuable both the block on Lee and taking the charge were in the Blazers getting the win.
“Both game-changing plays. I think the first thing you think about is a big shot or somebody getting dunked on or something like that as like an energy, game-changing play, but I think tonight those two plays is kind of what changed the game completely for us,” Lillard said.
Backup wing Evan Turner felt the same way about Collins’ performance as the Blazers’ second unit outscored the Warriors’ bench, 52-23.
“He got a lot of extra possessions for us and he played tough. I think he single handedly changed the game,” Turner said.
Collins continued to get under the Warriors skin through the fourth quarter. Portland led 110-103 before Draymond Green was called for a Flagrant 1 on Collins with 3:54 left. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr stood up for Green and after yelling at the officials and throwing a clipboard, Kerr was ejected.
Lillard made the three technical shots and Collins made his free throws to give the Blazers a 115-103 lead.
Warriors All-Star Kevin Durant was asked about Collins’ performance after the game, to which KD simply replied with: “He played with a lot of energy. He played with a force, you know, blocking shots, the crowd got him hyped, so it is what it is.”
To KD, the crowd got Collins hyped. To Zach, he was getting the crowd hyped right before he was jarring with Thompson.
“I was just hyping up the crowd and then he came up to me, we just kind of went back and forth and that was it,” Collins said.
Coach Stotts said on Wednesday during his pregame interview that the newest edition to the roster, center Enes Kanter, will be the backup center for the Blazers and so with that it looks like Collins could be the odd man out.
But Collins isn’t letting that bother him.
“I know what I bring to this team, so I’m gonna go out there regardless if I play two minutes or thirty minutes, I’m gonna go out there and play as hard as I can… Whatever happens with minutes happens. I’m excited that [Kanter] is a part of our team,” Collins said.
So no matter how much Collins sees the floor we can all look forward to more game changing hustle plays from the big man.