OAKLAND — It was unlikely that Portland’s starting backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum were going to be able to carry the Trail Blazers largely by themselves for the entirety of Game One versus the Warriors Sunday afternoon in Oakland. But considering the level both were playing at, particularly in the first half, plenty of fans back in Portland had to be asking themselves if perhaps Lillard and McCollum alone actually were enough to pull off what would be considered a monumental upset.
But, as is often the case when a team is going up against a roster with considerably more talent, the Trail Blazers lost contact in the fourth after an otherwise close game before going on to lose 121-109 in front of a sellout crowd of 19,596 Sunday afternoon at Oracle Arena.
“It’s going to take a team to beat (Golden State),” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “Damian and CJ are talented scorers and they both had great offensive nights. I mean, CJ in the first half was outstanding. But we need everybody. Guys have to be ready to make shots. They’re a good help defensive team, so when the ball is swung out, they’ve got to be able to take advantage of those opportunities. But, yeah, Damian and CJ, if they get 80 between them, we still need to score another 40 or 50 somewhere.”
The Trail Blazers now trail the Warriors 1-0 in the best-of-seven series.
Playing without Jusuf Nurkić, who missed his eighth straight game with a non-displaced fracture in his right fibula, the Trail Blazers needed something close to career-best numbers from the rest of the team to remain competitive against a Warriors team that won 66 games this season. And Portland got that from both Lillard and McCollum. The guard duo, perhaps refreshed from sitting out the last two games of the regular season, combined to score 48 points in the first half, the most they have ever combined to scored in a single half, to help the Trail Blazers go into the intermission tied 56-56.
“I think we did a good job of as a team of moving the ball,” said McCollum, who scored 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting in the first half. “Dame set some great screens for me, I was able to get to the free throw line early. Dame hit me with some kick-aheads and I just tried to stay aggressive and attack. I had a little mini-vacation at the end of the season where I was able to not play in some games and workout, kind of work on getting to certain spots and just lifted, kind of took advantage of those rest days. I wanted to come out, be aggressive, play hard and give ourselves a chance.”
Which his and Lillard’s first-half performance allowed, even as the rest of the team combined to go 3-of-16 from the field in the first two quarter.
The game would remain just as close in the third, with the Trail Blazers briefly holding the lead on multiple occasions before knotting the game at 88-88 going into the fourth and final quarter. But it was all Warriors in the final 12 minutes, as the home team used a 12-0 run to take a 103-90 midway through the fourth.
“They went on a run in the fourth quarter and we couldn’t stop them when they went on that run,” said Harkless. “Througout the game we did a pretty good job of controling their runs — we’d stop a 5-0 run or a 6-0 run, something like that. But they went on a 15-2 run in the fourth quarter. Right there, that hurt us. It’s hard to bounce back like that against a team like that. You’ve got to limit their runs and easy buckets.”
The Trail Blazers would get the deficit back below double digits, thanks again to the offense of McCollum, but were never able to string together enough stops to avoid the 12-point loss.
“They did a good job, they protected their homecourt,” said McCollum. “Took advantage of some plays, some turnovers, some run-outs. I think that was the difference.”
The Trail Blazers were led by McCollum, who finished with a playoff career-high 41 points on 16-of-28 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 shooting from three, eight rebounds and an assist in 41 minutes.
Lillard, once again playing in his hometown of Oakland, went 12-of-26 for 34 points, five rebounds and three assists in 39 minutes.
Evan Turner, who started Game One at small forward, finished with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds while also adding four assists in 35 minutes. Maurice Harkless added 11 points.
Kevin Durant led the Warriors with a double-double of 32 points, 10 rebounds in 36 minutes. Stephen Curry went 9-of-19 from the field for 29 points, five rebounds and four assists. Draymond Green, who was a defensive force in the paint, finished an assist short of a triple-double with 19 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in 37 minutes.
“I think you try to hold Klay and Steph down, make them take tough shots and make the game harder for them, and you know you’re in a close game and you’re going back and forth,” said Lillard. “Then you add Kevin Durant, guys who has been an MVP in this league, and that’s a hell of an option to have, especially in a game like tonight.”
Both teams now have two day off before Game Two, which is scheduled for Wednesday night at Oracle Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm.