With Kevin Durant on the sidelines and all kinds of urgency from their opponent, the Golden State Warriors needed all 48 minutes to pick up a victory during Thursday’s Game 2 against the Portland Trail Blazers. Still, Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and company managed to engineer a 114-111 win and, in doing so, claimed what could be a pivotal 2-0 edge in the Western Conference Finals.
At the outset, C.J. McCollum established a positive tone for Portland, scoring eight points in the first four minutes.
The Blazers then surged ahead with a 12-4 run and, in general, Portland played at a high level for the majority of the first quarter. Part of that strong start stemmed from Al-Farouq Aminu, who scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds in only eight minutes.
Not to be outdone, the Warriors responded with an awakening led by Draymond Green and Steph Curry. Green, as usual, made his mark defensively in blocking four shots, and he added six points in the first quarter for good measure.
Steph Curry got it going from the perimeter, scoring 12 points in the first period to lead all scorers and making it look easy.
Portland did take a small advantage into the second quarter, though, and that was not a fluky result with the way the visiting team played in the first 12 minutes. The Blazers continued that constructive play early in the period but, in the same breath, the Blazers were unable to build on their lead despite the presence of suboptimal lineups from Golden State.
With their bench on the floor, the Warriors kept things manageable, thanks in part to two noteworthy highlights from Jonas Jerebko and Jordan Bell.
The flurry was coming from Portland, however, and it came in concert with Damian Lillard coming alive. The Blazers built their lead to double figures when Lillard connected on his first points of the game and, eventually, Portland took a 62-45 lead late in the second quarter.
Lillard scored 10 points in the final four minutes of the half and, with McCollum scoring 16 points in the half, the Blazers took a 65-50 lead into the break. The biggest strength for the visitors came in the form of three-point shooting with 11 makes on 22 attempts, but Portland also forced 11 turnovers defensively and played well on both ends of the floor.
After the halftime hiatus, the Blazers took a 17-point edge but, in on-brand fashion, the Warriors threw a haymaker. With the help of two three-pointers from Klay Thompson and another from Steph Curry, Golden State put together a 13-0 run in the blink of an eye to climb within one possession at 69-66.
The Warriors then took the lead on a three from Thompson.
Mercifully, the Blazers recovered to force a tie at the end of the third quarter but plenty of damage was done in forcing the once comfortable lead to evaporate. Golden State scored 39 points in the period, converting 13 of 23 shots (including 6 of 10 from three) and all seven free throw attempts. Curry (11 points) and Thompson (13 points) were in the middle of the it all and high drama was created as a result.
To their immense credit, Portland weathered the storm and inched ahead in the early going of the fourth quarter, with a 13-5 headlined by a long triple from Lillard.
That spurt pushed the Blazers to a 102-94 lead with less than seven minutes remaining and the script was flipped completely from the third quarter. Moments later, Steph Curry stopped the bleeding but, in a moment of perfect synergy, Seth Curry responded in kind.
Then, Meyers Leonard (!) knocked down a top-of-the-key three to give Portland a 108-100 lead and the Blazers threatened to run away a hide to some degree.
On cue, the Warriors rattled off ten (yes, ten) straight points, capped by a trio of free throws from Steph Curry, to retake the lead with 2:01 remaining.
Portland’s scoring drought reach more than three full minutes but, to break the silence, Seth Curry found the bottom of the net to give the Blazers the lead again with 1:03 on the clock.
On the other end, Green found Kevon Looney to flip the lead back in Golden State’s favor at 112-111.
Following a missed jumper from McCollum, the Warriors took a three-point edge after Steph Curry found Green for a crucial bucket with 12.3 seconds remaining.
On the game’s final possession, the Blazers failed to get a shot in the air, with Andre Iguodala stealing the ball from Lillard to preserve a come-from-behind victory.
Steph Curry finished the evening with a game-high 37 points, with Thompson adding 24 points and both guards converting four three-pointers. Elsewhere, Green was everywhere on both ends, finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks, with 14 points from Looney and 11 key points from Bell in relief.
In the end, the Blazers put together a strong performance for the vast majority of the evening and that would have been good enough for a victory in many circumstances. This time around, though, the Warriors used two major runs to escape with a win and Portland will return home in a 2-0 hole as a result.