Not even Kevin Durant playing with a cheat code could save the Golden State Warriors from losing, 123-117, to the Portland Trail Blazers and dropping into second place in the Western Conference standings on Wednesday.
On a night when the Warriors head into the All-Star break half a game back from the Houston Rockets, Durant dropped 50 points and a pair of his All-Star teammates went missing, here’s what you need to know …
The slow starts are crushing the Warriors. A game after Steve Kerr handed the huddle over to his players in an effort to re-engage his flagging squad, the head coach was none too pleased with how the Warriors opened against the Blazers.
Golden State surrendered 40 points in the opening period. The Warriors trailed 40-27 and it would have been worse if not for a four-point stretch from Durant and Stephen Curry in the final 3.7 seconds.
“We already started the All-Star break about a half hour ago,” a frustrated Kerr said during his on-court interview with ESPN at the end of the quarter.
On the year, the Warriors are minus-24 in the first quarter, which ranks No. 18 in the NBA. At the Moda Center, Damian Lillard hit the Warriors with an 18-point first. That was the start of one of the most important trends of the night.
The Blazers’ backcourt outplayed the Splash Brothers. Rare is the pairing of guards that can outduel Curry and Klay Thompson. Lillard and CJ McCollum are right at the top of that list.
Lillard, who makes a habit of taking it to his hometown club, was second only to Durant with 44 points. The All-Star point guard was also a game high plus-17. McCollum chipped in 29 and the tandem of Blazers combined to shoot 51 percent (26-for-51).
Juxtapose that to the performances delivered by the All-Star duo of Curry and Klay Thompson who shot 34.3 percent (11-for-32). Curry didn’t sink his first triple until there was 2:05 to go in the half and Thompson produced one of those increasingly common outings where it’s easy to forget he’s even out on the floor for long stretches.
Thompson whiffed a wide-open corner 3-pointer with 22.3 second to go, which would have handed the Warriors a lead. After the miss, the usually stoic guard was uncharacteristically mad, dropping his head into his hands.
Durant earned his first 50-point game since March 21, 2014. Durant did everything he could to keep the Warriors from losing to the Blazers and from falling behind the Rockets. In the process of scoring 50 points, Durant produced a pair of four-point plays, sank a 3-pointer while colliding with a referee and knocked down 17 of his 27 shots.
There were some crazy numbers in the boxscore — like Durant scoring 50 but finishing minus-6. Here are a few of the rest:
*Andre Iguodala finishing plus-9 while not attempting a single shot in 29 minutes
*Draymond Green recoding a line of 16 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, four blocks and zero turnovers
*Zaza Pachulia vanishing after the first six minutes and Nick Young starting in his place in the third
Bill Walton was a joy as a broadcaster. The one-and-only Walton spent much of the broadcast continually showering praise on the Warriors’ players and the organization at large. Walton delivered one of his lines of the night midway through the third quarter when Durant fed Curry in the lane, leading to a nifty layup.
“Curry. KD. What a show,” Walton gushed. “Mozart. Steve Jobs. Together.”