Warriors pull away in fourth quarter for Game 1 win over the Blazers
OAKLAND — Danger time for the Warriors in these playoffs could come at the start of the second and fourth quarters, when Steve Kerr typically sends Steph Curry and Kevin Durant to the bench together.
But in the postseason opener — an entertaining 121-109 Game 1 win over the Blazers in Oracle on Sunday afternoon — that was separation time, led by Draymond Green and a pack of veteran, motivated defenders that turned an 88-88 tie into a runaway fourth quarter win.
C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard roasted the Warriors’ defense for the game’s first 36 minutes, combining for 62 points in three quarters and needing only minor contributions from Portland’s others to remain competitive longer than expected.
They had a chance to steal Game 1 on the road and, to do it, they needed to exploit the Warriors when they’re typically their weakest, with both MVPs on the bench. But instead, the Warriors pounced in that early fourth quarter pocket.
Green started the quarter with a three to go up three, his third make from deep. Then Klay Thompson — who had a rough Game 1 on both ends — hounded CJ McCollum into a turnover. With a rested Andre Iguodala, David West and Ian Clark surrounding Green and Thompson, arms and veteran bodies were suddenly everywhere.
Portland’s offense, so potent earlier, was throttled by the cranked up pressure.
That even included Ian Clark, the worst defender of the group, but a microwave offensive player who produced maybe the most important performance of his career on Sunday. Clark had a 3, steal and lefty floater sequence in the first half and then followed it up with a layup and corner 3 to bump the Warriors up seven early in that fourth quarter, part of his 12 points in 13 minutes.
Clark’s offense was set up by team defense. On the possession prior, Green forced Al-Farouq Aminu into an ugly, off-balance airball, powerfully rebounded by David West, pushed ahead to Iguodala, who found Clark in the corner for the big 3.
The Blazers called timeout to stem momentum. But it didn’t. Out of the break, Green swatted away a McCollum layup — one of his five blocks on the day — and then Iguodala, West and Thompson jumped Portland’s pick-and-roll attempts and forced a shot clock violation.
Thompson hit a jumper. Clark nailed a pair of free throws. The Warriors early fourth quarter offensive was nothing spectacular, but it didn’t need to be. The Blazers were held to five points in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter and by the time Durant and Curry returned — having left in a tie game — the Warriors were up 10, using a 15-5 run.
Durant hit a pair of jumpers to close strong, part of his efficient 32-point night on 12-of-20 shooting. Curry added 29. But it was Green and the vet lineup that turned Game 1 in the fourth quarter.
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