OAKLAND — From passes bouncing off of Klay Thompson’s head to a rash of missed free throws, the Golden State Warriors were nearly unrecognizable in their second meeting of the year against the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.
Going just 13-of-44 from 3-point land and turning the ball over nine times in the first half — including a Draymond Green pass off of Thompson’s face — the Warriors, somehow, still managed to put themselves in a position to win an overtime thriller against the Blazers. Then, even more head-scratching moments led to their third overtime loss in three tries this season, 110-109.
“It was a wild game. It was a strange game,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “We just didn’t put it together for 48 minutes.”
Coming off of a 26-point blowout courtesy of the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, Golden State opened Thursday’s affair playing close attention to many of the details that led to the Christmas Day shellacking.
Green, who had only five assists to four turnovers on Thursday, eclipsed that assist total within six minutes, helping Golden State keep up with Portland’s brisk pace. That locked-in play, though, gave way to a dismal 3-point shooting effort (5-of-16 in the first half) and nine first-half turnovers, off of which Portland scored seven points, giving them a six-point advantage headed into halftime.
“The first half execution was very poor,” Kerr said. “I didn’t think we were aggressive enough … We didn’t play with any force or purpose.”
While Green’s pass off of Thompson’s face with 3:01 to go in the second quarter highlighted the odd nature of the first half, Golden State did cut down on turnovers in the second, finishing with 15, but the free throw issues persisted.
The Warriors came into Thursday night leading the league in free throw percentage (83 percent). They would finish the game shooting a mere 31-percent (5-of-16). After going 1-of-6 from the line in the first 24 minutes of the game, the Warriors would be an abysmal 2-of-11 from shooting free throws by the end of the third quarter, including a stretch in which they missed eight of nine attempts.
“It definitely stings when you leave money out there on the floor,” said forward Kevin Durant. “It’s unacceptable to miss that many free throws.”
Shooting woes had in a 10-point hole with 3:01 left in regulation, but Durant and Stephen Curry scored a combined 14 points to even the game at 102-102 before heading into overtime for the third time this season.
“We just made shots,” Durant said. “We finally knocked down shots when we needed them.”
In overtime, Golden State would open up a four-point lead, but just as the Warriors thought they had overcome a wonky night, oddity stuck again.
Up by two after Green hit his only 3-point shot of the night, Curry was trapped near the half-court line, attempting to pass out of the double-team. Blazers forward Maurice Harkless tipped the ball into the air, triggering a fast break for Portland.
Blazers guard Damian Lillard would end up with the ball in his hands, hitting a fadeaway 3-pointer on the right wing to give Portland a 110-109 advantage with 5.1 to play.
“Obviously, I want that pass back,” Curry said. “They got the best of me on that one.”
The Warriors would have one last chance to win the game as Durant had a clean mid-range look at the buzzer, but the shot would fall short.
As the Portland bench stormed the court after the win, the Warriors walked directly to the locker room with their heads down.
“I think not winning and playing the way we have done for many years, I think our guys are a little disappointed,” Kerr said. “But that’s when you have to fight even harder.”
“We’re very open and transparent in our locker room,” Curry said. “Coach [Kerr] has done a good job of keeping it real with us, in terms of we’re not playing our best basketball. But we’re together … The message tonight was just fight your way through it. Whatever’s going on, whatever you need to do to get our mind right and get the joy back in what we do, get there.”