PORTLAND — The Portland Trail Blazers entered Game Four versus the Golden State Warriors not even thinking about winning the first-round playoff series, but simply with the goal of extending their season by avoiding a sweep. That hope was extinguished quickly Monday night.
The Warriors scored the first 14 points of the game and would lead by as many as 28 points in the first quarter, before going on to defeat the Trail Blazers 128-103 in front of a sellout crowd of 19,902 at the Moda Center while sweeping the first round series 4-0.
The Warriors have now eliminated the Trail Blazers from the playoffs in each of the last two years.
By time Trail Blazers scored their first points of the game off a three-pointer from Evan Turner with 8:21 to play in the first quarter, the Warriors had already made three three-pointers, two layups, a midrange jumper and a free throw to go up 14-3.
“It was kind of indescribable really,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts of Golden State’s start to the game. “They came out really energized, focused. I mean they showed their championship pedigree and we were slow to react to it and we just couldn’t get it going. We didn’t play nearly as well as we needed to and they showed why they’re a championship team.”
Golden State would score eight more points before the Trail Blazers got on the board again, and before the quarter was over, the Warriors had tied the NBA record for most points scored in the first quarter of a playoff game. By time the second quarter started, the game and the series was effectively over.
Portland managed to get the deficit under 20 a couple of times in the second and third quarters, thanks mostly to the play of Damian Lillard and Al-Farouq Aminu, though that would be about the only highlight, if one could call it that, for the home team. Golden State would lead by as many as 33, with both coaches handing the game over to their little-used reserved with nearly half of the fourth quarter to play.
And that was the way an often disappointing and unpredictable season came to a close for the Trail Blazers.
“I’m sure we’ll evaluate this season but this was a roller coaster for us from Day One,” said Stotts. “It’s been an up and down season, frustrating in some ways, but I think, as I told the team, what I’ll remember most about this team is how we competed after the All Star break to make the playoffs. That showed a lot of character and I was very proud of the way we competed and made the effort to make the playoffs. It’s a bad way to end the season, it usually is in the playoffs, but when I look back on this season that’s what I’m going to remember most is how we came back since the All Star break.”
Portland was led by Lillard, who finished with 34 points on 12-of-24 shooting, six assists, a steal and a rebound in 42 minutes. Lillard played the entirety of the first, second and third quarters, only exiting with 6:11 to play in the fourth.
“I wasn’t going to go out and just lay down because of the way the game started,” said Lillard. “I was going to compete until I wasn’t on the floor no more. Coach left me in and I gave it what I had. They just had the better team, they had the better night.”
Aminu came off the bench to score 25 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field and 5-of-9 shooting from three, seven rebounds, two steals and a block in 34 minutes. Shabazz Napier was the only other Blazer to score in double figures, putting up 14 points off the bench. Noah Vonleh grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds in 17 minutes.
The Warriors had six players finish in double figures led by Stephen Curry, who went 12-of-20 from the field and 7-of-11 from three for 37 points. Kevin Durant, who sat out Game Three with a calf strain, returned to the lineup and finished with 10 points in 22 minutes.
Draymond Green added 21 and David West scored 12 off the bench.
The Trail Blazers now go their separate ways for the offseason. Some will stick around in Portland, others will head to their homes outside of Rip City. But all will have to work on their respective games in order to set themselves up for a better season next time around.
“We’re a relatively young team, I think we’re the youngest team in the playoffs,” said Stotts. “This was a good experience to understand playing against a team like Golden State. Neil (Olshey) has done an outstanding job with the roster every offseason and I’m sure, obviously there are always changes going from one season to the next, but a lot of our growth is going to have to be internal. The players on the roster now need to continue to get better as they have.”