The Trail Blazers were outshot from the three-point line and from the field by the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night, Outrebounded, too.
But the Blazers won, anyway, 108-106 – as Damian Lillard emerged from double-team hell just in time to ride to the rescue.
The Warriors had a three-point lead and a possession that ended with just under a minute to play during which they missed four straight shots. They went on to miss two more attempts inside the final minute and it was just enough room for Portland to steal the game.
Lillard buried a 29-foot three-pointer with 14 seconds to go that stood as the final margin of victory. The Portland all-star had made just two of his nine threes prior to the game-winner.
Still, he had to win it for his team at the defensive end, stepping in to draw a charging foul near the rim on Draymond Green with 4.1 seconds left.
“Dame is undeterred,” Terry Stotts said afterward. “Obviously, he didn't shoot the ball well tonight, but he made the two plays of the game. He makes the big three and takes the charge.
“He's is a super competitor, and never thinks he's out of a game, and he’s always willing to put himself on the line to make the play at either end. So, I think those last two plays speak volumes for the type of player that he is.”
Lillard has made big defensive plays late in games, particularly in setting himself up to take charges. This one was a close one – he was outside the restricted area, but got himself set just in time.
“Once we ran Draymond off the (three-point) line, he was coming downhill pretty fast,” Lillard said. “I waited a second to make sure that he was going to commit to going to the rim and once he did, I just stepped in and took the charge.”
Through much of the game the Warriors blitzed Lillard on pick-and-rolls and double-teamed him when they could. Often, they left other Portland shooters wide open for shots beyond the arc – but the Trail Blazers were just 14-49 on the threes.
Lillard is getting that treatment almost every game these days and the Trail Blazers are handling it with mixed success. Certainly opposing teams must believe it’s still a winning strategy or they wouldn’t be continuing to do it.
Portland seemed to be working the officials pretty hard all game and it appeared to work – as the Trail Blazers were 22-26 from the free-throw line and the Warriors were just 9-14.
Portland will finish off the first half of its season Thursday night at Moda against Sacramento.