MODA CENTER, PORTLAND, OR — Two nights after coming back in Game 3 to take a stranglehold 3-0 lead in the opening round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs, the Golden State Warriors (3-0) were back for Game 4 against the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Warriors did not have head coach Steve Kerr (illness due to last year’s back surgery), they did welcome back Kevin Durant from a left calf strain into the starting lineup. However, Shaun Livingston (right finger/thumb) and Matt Barnes (foot/ankle sprain) remained out.
The Blazers had Jusuf Nurkic out again after giving it a go in Game 3.
Q1: Blitz Mode
The Warriors got off to a “blazing” hot start, as Klay Thompson drew a trip to the line on an aggressive take, Damian Lillard got disrupted by Zaza Pachulia, and Stephen Curry pushed the ball up the court to find Durant on the left wing for three:
Draymond Green then found a cutting Thompson, and added a catch-and-bomb swish from the left wing…
…and Blazers head coach Terry Stotts had no choice but to call timeout with Golden State already up, 9-0, with 10:35 still left on the clock.
But out of the timeout, Green disrupted an Evan Turner scoop, then Klay took two dribbles from the left to the top and drilled another trey:
It kept raining buckets as a missed three by Moe Harkless turned into a shovel pass from Curry to a cutting “KD” for a slam at the other end.
That gave the Warriors a 14-0 lead before Turner finally broke the spell and hit a three.
But after Harkless got blocked at the rim by Durant…
…Curry answered with a splash…
…and after Pachulia got an and-one going past Meyers Leonard, who started in place of Nurkic, Durant got a right side slam on a crossover, forcing Stotts to take another timeout as the Warriors bolted out to a 22-3 lead with 6:47 to play:
Later, Klay got another trey just before the shot clock buzzer on an assist by Curry, Steph then got a defensive rebound, brought the ball up, and pulled up from the top, and Golden State’s lead ballooned to 28-5.
Andre Iguodala came in and promptly hit a baseline swish on a feed by Curry, Steph pulled up again after a missed free throw by the Blazers for three more…
…with a fantabulous bench reaction, and after Lillard got a putback after Noah Vonleh missed his shot for a putback, Brown called a Gregg Popovich-like timeout to quell the effect of a basket after a long drought, with the Warriors up big, 35-11.
JaVale McGee checked in, Draymond swished another catch-and-shoot triple on the left arc from Iguodala at the top.
Lillard got an and-one in response, but Green drove down the right side and lobbed on the run to McGee for a smash and the harm, and Golden State sported a 41-16 lead with 1:54 to go:
Later, McGee added an impressive fall-away catch…
…Iguodala found Draymond for a touchdown and he got fouled trying to dunk by Al-Farouq Aminu, but Green missed both free throws, Aminu hit a trey with 1.5 seconds left, and the Warriors held a 45-22 lead after the opening period.
Q2: A Lull, Then Another Awakening
Thompson hit a long two, later reviewed and ruled a three, to start the Warriors in the second stanza on the right foot, but Lillard got locked in and brought the Blazers back to a 49-32 deficit with 8:53 remaining.
David West checked in and promptly hit a jumper followed by an inside up-fake power move against Lillard and Aminu, and Draymond followed that up with another triple, his third of the night on five tries, and Stotts called another timeout as the Warriors regained their momentum with a 57-34 lead and 6:04 to play.
Later, Curry pulled up and hit a long two, Aminu saved a ball going out of the baseline to Turner for a rough-and-tumble layup, and after Durant back-ironed an iso post-up fade in the right block, Lillard pulled up against Ian Clark, using his forearm that wasn’t called, and Brown took a timeout as Portland inched back, 59-39, with 4:25 left.
Out of the timeout, Durant and Lillard exchanged bad passes, and Curry ran pick-and-roll with West up top, dishing to West for a jumper.
After a few sequences, Steph found himself guarded by Vonleh on a switch, but it was early in the shotclock so he toyed with him with a couple crossovers and threw the ball to Klay on the left wing, who then moved up to the top and gave it back to Curry on the left arc, still against Vonleh.
This time, an upfake made Vonleh guess wrong, and Steph rose again for the real shot, a swish, to take a merciless 64-43 lead with 2:13 remaining:
A few possessions after that, Thompson pulled up from the top for a long two…
…Aminu answered with a three assisted by Lillard, but then drew a technical as he defended Iguodala in the post on a double-team and got called for a ticky-tack foul.
Curry got another dagger with 31 seconds to go, preserving the two-for-one advantage…
…but missed a heat-check after that, and the Warriors cruised into halftime with a 72-48 lead.
(Photo: @letsgowarriors Instagram account via @taco_malaria)