Three games, three blowout wins.
That’s how the Warriors’ homestand shaped up after Friday’s 118-103 win over the Blazers (10-10) at Chase Center. The win, one earned with just 10 healthy players, is Golden State’s 17th in 19 games this season, the best mark in the league. They’ve also won 11 of 12 games at home, their lone loss coming in overtime to the Grizzlies on Oct. 28. Nine of those wins have been by double-figures.
Friday was more of the same. Stephen Curry dropped 32 points, Draymond Green led a sterling defensive effort and was two rebounds away from a triple-double and the bench found contributors, most notably Juan Toscano-Anderson who had 8 points and 8 rebounds.
Here are three takeaways:
End of first half run
As we’ve seen so many times during the Stephen Curry-era, Friday’s game changed in the blink of an eye.
With 2:49 left in the first half, Jusuf Nurkic threw down a dunk on a roll to the basket that tied the game at 42. It was another jab by the Blazers in a first half that consisted of the two west coast rivals trading blows. In a season of mostly blowouts by the Warriors, it looked like Friday might actually be a tight one.
Then there was the explosion. Jordan Poole three. Curry steal. Curry three. Blazers timeout.
Robert Covington scored when the game resumed with 1:49, and the Blazers hoped they’d stopped the bleeding down just 48-44. They were wrong. The Warriors would close the quarter on an 11-0 run, capped by a ridiculous Curry three. It was enough to set off Blazers assistant coach Scott Brooks, who was tossed shortly after the halftime buzzer.
Portland would never get within more than eight points for the game’s remaining 24 minutes.
Defense on Lillard
The difference on the defensive end between these two teams was on full display Friday night. One need not look beyond what each team was able to throw at the other’s respective point guards.
The Blazers elected to go with Damian Lillard on Curry, and tried to mitigate the matchup by sending help and trapping the pick-and-roll. It seemed to work okay for about half a quarter, but the combination of Lillard’s lack of size and Nurkic’s slow feet ultimately were no match for Golden State’s man and ball movement as the game wore on. Curry also made the Blazers pay for their overaggressiveness by cutting to the hoop for a number of easy layups.
On the other end, Golden State showed why it’s the top ranked defense in the league, throwing the likes of Draymond Green and Juan Toscano-Anderson on Lillard, holding the Blazers’ star to just 16 points, six of which he scored with the game basically out of reach. Lillard didn’t hit his first 3-pointer until there were 2:33 seconds left in the game. There aren’t many teams who can throw a small-ball five at one of the most explosive point guards in the league, let alone two.
The strategy allowed Andrew Wiggins to keep C.J. McCollum in check (16 points in 39 minutes), and dared the likes of Norman Powell, Robert Covington and Nurkic to beat them. Aside from a few Nurkic rolls to the basket, they could not. T
Overall the Blazers shot just over 41 percent from the field, having entered as a top five offense that typically shoots over 46 percent.
Anfernee Simons gets hot
Another reason this game seemed destined to be a back-and-forth contest was Golden State’s shorthanded roster. The Warriors were without half their bench, missing Andre Iguodala and Damion Lee due to minor injury concerns, and Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody who were getting a run in the G-League.
For the most part it didn’t matter. The Blazers bench scored just two points in the first half, almost completely unable to take advantage of the non-Steph minutes.
Then came the fourth quarter. Super-sub Anfernee Simons got red hot, and almost singlehandedly shot the Blazers back into the game, dropping 15 points in the frame including four 3-pointers. On a team known for its sharpshooting backcourt, a case can be made that the 22-year old Simons was the most valuable Blazers guard on Friday; he was the only one who hit big shots when it mattered while also adding three steals on the defensive end.
Ultimately it didn’t matter. Simons played well enough to get the Blazers within eight at the 5:31 mark, but, surprise, two Curry threes gave the Warriors enough breathing room to close it out.