The Chase Center Curse is lifted.
In their second consecutive game without a single All-Star on the court, the baby Warriors (2-5) earned the franchise’s first ever win at their new San Francisco arena, besting the Portland Trail Blazers (3-4) 127-118.
Somehow, the combination of Eric Paschall and Ky Bowman were able to out duel the perennial All-Star backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
Paschall was the star again, dropping 34 (the Warriors originally listed his point total at 36), his second 20+ point game in a row, while also snagging 13 rebounds, his first career double-double. Most encouragingly, Paschall excelled both inside and outside the arc, going 4-for-6 from deep to go along with his 11-for-19 night overall. He was also a perfect 8-for-8 from the line.
The rookie second-rounder did everything while playing 40 minutes. He was simultaneously the team’s isolation ball handler and emergency center during crunch time. His routinely beat larger Blazers defenders off the dribble and shot over shorter defenders with ease, a dangerous combination for a player his size (6′ 7″, 255 lbs). Even in a game with Damian Lillard, he was the best player on the court.
All on his 23rd birthday no less.
But while Paschall would’ve been pegged as the leading scorer prior to tip, Bowman served as perhaps the biggest surprise. The undrafted rookie was a long shot to make the team just a month ago, let alone start for the defending Western Conference champions.
Bowman made the most of his second ever NBA start on Monday, scoring a career high 19 on 9-for-14 shooting. Bowman isn’t a stopper by any means, but showed great effort and stamina chasing around the incorralable Damian Lillard for the better part of his 37 minutes on the court.
Lillard, of course, is a true NBA superstar, and very much played that part as well.
It’s tempting to say Lillard did his best Curry impression, but he’s been doing this far too long to say he’s imitating anyone. Lillard dropped four 3-pointers from beyond 30 feet — 36, 32, 31, 30. Lillard added one more to go along with a game-high 39 points.
The Warriors’ lack of center was a problem again. The mercurial Hassan Whiteside feasted on whoever was guarding him, most notably de facto starter Willie Cauley-Stein, to the tune of 22 points. Expect this to continue until Kevon Looney is ready to go.
Withside’s ugly side also made an appearance when the Warriors took a late five point lead, earning a technical for an elbow to Bowman’s neck.
Ky Bowman isn’t a fake tough guy — unlike his opponent here. pic.twitter.com/X8UZoSusRG
— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dieter) November 5, 2019
In previous games, the Warriors have petered out in the second half. Golden State stepped on the gas vs. the veteran Blazers, however, outscoring Portland 67-55 in the final two frames.
Its hard to argue these young Warriors are better without the injured D’Angelo Russell in the fold, but the lack of a ball dominant star allows more players in need of a confidence boost to get involved. It also allows the Warriors to play a style with which they will play when the team is back to full health. That seems to have value.
Monday’s win was also the Warriors’ cleanest game of the season — just 10 turnovers leading to six Blazers points — regardless of personnel.
The feel good moments are likely to be few and far between for the Warriors in this bizarre, lame-duck season, but this was certainly one of them.
Six Warriors scored in double-figures: Paschall (34), Bowman (19), Alec Burks (13), Damion Lee (16), Willie Cauley-Stein (10) and Jordan Poole (16). Lee is a wing by trade, but filled in admirably for the second game in a row as the Warriors’ emergency reserve point guard. Golden State had just four healthy reserves on the bench.
C.J. McCollum scored just 14 points in 34 minutes.
As pointed out by Anthony Slater, Golden State missing $125.9 million worth of salaried players currently. Paschall is due to make $898K this season.