PORTLAND, Ore. — It’s been a balancing act of sorts for the new-look Golden State Warriors since the offseason acquisition of Kevin Durant.
The Warriors put together one nice offensive game (122 points against New Orleans on Oct. 28) and one nice defensive game (limiting Phoenix to 100 points on Sunday), but not a complete game.
Not until Tuesday’s 127-104 drubbing of Portland at Moda Center, that is.
Golden State’s defense played with a chip on its shoulder. Sticky hands and bodies in passing lanes led to easy buckets in transition, and the Warriors held their hosts to just 22 points in the paint.
“With our defense being called out, saying there’s no anger, and it’s not the same any more and all that. … I think some opinions will change sooner or later,” Draymond Green said after the game.
The Dubs shot 58 percent from the floor and held Portland to 43 percent while outrebounding and out-assisting the Trail Blazers by double-digit margins.
Portland guard Damian Lillard had 22 points in the first half, making six of his first eight shots. The Warriors were able to make adjustments as they tightened their defense in the second half, when they allowed Lillard just nine points.
“We picked up the intensity, aggressiveness and focus on the defensive end,” Stephen Curry said. “Especially against this team, if you stop certain options they’re looking for, get rebounds and push in transition, that’s when we’re at our best.”
Curry started the game with three quick turnovers and couldn’t find his shot. He finished the first half 2-for-9 from the floor with five points, including a rare missed free throw. But, the rout started in the third quarter, thanks in large part to a Curry resurgence.
Curry outscored the entire Portland team in the third quarter 23-20. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr wasn’t surprised.
“The thing with Steph is that I’ve never seen anyone quite like him, someone who can turn it on so quickly,” Kerr said. “He can turn a bad game into a brilliant game.”
Curry said he started “feeling it” after he made a high-arcing shot in the third quarter.Golden State outscored Portland 41-20 in the third and led by 27 going into the fourth quarter.
A point of emphasis for the Warriors heading into Tuesday night’s contest was rim protection. Green, David West, and Andre Iguodala combined to turn in what coach Kerr called the best defensive effort of the season, effectively keeping the Blazers’ bigs out of the lane.
Third-year reserve guard Ian Clark made the most of his minutes, scoring a career-high 22 points on 8-for-8 shooting from the field to keep the Warriors close in the first half.
The Warriors will look to improve on its first complete game of the season when they welcome Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder to Oracle Arena on Thursday.
Green expects the game it deliver on its already outsized hype.
“Next game will have a lot of emotions,” he said. “[The Thunder] are going to want to beat [Durant] really bad, he’s going to want to beat them really bad, and in turn, we’re going to want to beat them really bad because we want him to beat them really bad. These are fun games to play in because of how much emotion there will be.”