For the second time in as many trips to the Moda Center, the Golden State Warriors wasted a virtuoso performance from Kevin Durant, falling 125-108 to the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.
The Warriors also wasted a chance to pull level atop the Western Conference standings with the Houston Rockets, who lost earlier in the night to the Toronto Raptors. That defeat snapped the Rockets’ 17-game win streak.
On a night when the Warriors were without five rotation players — Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, David West, Jordan Bell and Patrick McCaw — here’s what you need to know…
After dropping 50 points on the Blazers in the Warriors’ last trip to Portland, Kevin Durant was once again in video-game mode. Durant took over early and often, putting up 14 points in the first quarter and 22 in the first half.
Durant closed the game with 40 — the third time he’s hit that milestone.
So far, Durant going for 40 has been bad news for the Warriors. Against the Blazers, the Curry-less were too Durant depend. The Warriors have lost all three games that Durant goes for at least 40 points. Klay Thompson chipped in 25 but the help was few and far between otherwise. The depleted bench, notably, totaled just 18.
The Warriors looked — and were — eminently beatable sans Curry.
A late third-quarter breakdown cost the Warriors the game. While the Warriors historically own the opening period of the second half, the guests lost this one in the waning minutes of the third quarter. Commanding a 83-77 lead, the Warriors allowed the Blazers to sprint out to a 10-run to cap the quarter. After leading by as much as six before that Blazer burst, the Warriors were never on the right side of the scoreline after that point.
Lack of energy was a clear factor for the short-handed Warriors who were attempting to close out the second leg of a back-to-back.
Damian Lillard did what he does against his hometown club. The Oakland native loves taking it to the Warriors and Friday night — what proved to be the Blazers’ ninth win in a row — was business as usual. The current streak actually began with Portland’s 123-117 win over the Warriors to close out the first half.
Lillard, who entered the evening averaging 26.7 points per game against the Warriors and poured in 44 in the most recent meeting, finished with 25 points. The All-Star also added eight assists and four rebounds.
Draymond Green is now one technical away from a mandatory suspension. In the closing minutes of the first half, Green picked up his 15th technical for the second time. While his first 15th technical was rescinded, this one is going to stick after Green barked at an official amid a half of jawing. The tempestuous Warriors no has zero margin for error over the final 16 games.
Zaza Pachulia had a bad night. Serving in the West role — second quarter starting center — Pachulia was unplayable against the Blazers.
The Georgian’s forgettable outing was best summarized by a sequence when, instead of hitting a wide-open Klay Thompson, Pachulia chose to dribble into a crowded lane and whiff the layup wildly. Pachulia ended up playing six minutes — finishing -3 with a turnover — and didn’t see the court again.
The oft-forgotten Kevon Looney replaced the veteran and while he was more effective than Pachulia he was no West (right arm cyst). The Warriors clearly missed West’s interior presence, losing out 46-30 on the glass and 14-6 on offensive rebounds.
The absence of Andre Iguodala was also acute. With Iguodala (left wrist sprain) out for the second game in a row, the Warriors’ wings were lacking for production. Shaun Livingston was -8 in 18 minutes, Nick Young was -13 in 24 minutes and Omri Casspi didn’t so much as attempt a shot in 10 minutes.