The Trail Blazers Friday night found themselves looking at an opportunity to come home from a four-game road trip with three wins. And when that trip includes games vs. the Lakers, Clippers and a back-to-back against Golden State, that would be a very nice way to open the team’s road schedule.
Portland’s guards dominated the Warriors’ guards Friday night and the Blazers cruised to a 123-98 win in San Francisco.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined to go 10-21 from three-point range, while Steph Curry and Kelly Oubre were 4-16. And it was just a continuance of a very slow start for the Golden State pair.
Both are struggling. In fact, Oubre has been something worse than struggling.
After his 0-4 showing Friday, Oubre is now an incredible 1-25 from three. Curry, now needed to carry a heavy load with Klay Thompson out for the season, is 18-56 (31 percent) from long range through five games -- for a player who came into the season shooting 44 percent from three for his career.
Portland was terrific on offense in the first quarter, which helps its defense, too.
“That’s tied together,” Coach Terry Stotts said. “It’s really difficult in this league to play good defense when your offense isn’t playing well. You have to be mentally tough to fight through the frustration of not playing good offense.
“When you have a good rhythm on offense and the other team is taking it out of the net, it slows down their transition and there’s definitely a snowball effect.”
The Trail Blazers broke out in front from the tip and never looked back. They had three 20-point leads in the first quarter and settled for a 15-point edge after the period.
McCollum had 16 points in the first quarter after hitting four of his first five three-point field goals.
He became only the second player (with Curry) to make five threes in each of his first five games of the season. He finished with 28 points.
Lillard hit 6 of his 10 threes, had eight assists and scored 34 points.
The Trail Blazers used Derrick Jones on Curry in the first half and Robert Covington in the second half. Both made Curry work very hard.
The Warriors made only 7 of their 35 shots from distance and, as it almost always is, the game was decided at the three-point line, where the Trail Blazers made 20 of 43.
“We’ve been emphasizing for everybody, ‘You gotta look for more threes,’” Stotts said.
And it worked out very well Friday night. The teams meet again Sunday in San Francisco and it will be interesting to see if those percentages hold up.