BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Andre Iguodala’s walk-off strip steal from Damian Lillard with four seconds remaining sealed a Golden State comeback from 17 points down at the start of the second half, as the Warriors stole a 114-111 win from Portland to take a commanding 2-0 series lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals Thursday night at Oracle Arena.
The Trail Blazers controlled the first half, outscoring the Warriors 34-21 in the second quarter to take a commanding 65-50 lead into the locker room at halftime. After CJ McCollum’s jumper to open the second half stretched the Portland lead to 17, Golden State went on a 37-15 run over the next ten minutes to take a five point lead before the Blazers fought back to even the score heading into the final quarter. Before it was over, it would go down as the largest blown halftime lead in Portland’s postseason history.
Steph Curry (11-22) recorded a game-high 37 points on the heels of a 36 point effort in the opening game of the series on Wednesday, while Klay Thompson added 24. Draymond Green, playing most of the final quarter with five fouls, had another solid all-around effort with 16 points on 8-12 shooting to go along with ten rebounds, seven assists and five blocks.
The Warriors once again got solid contributions from their bench, getting 14 points and seven rebounds from Kevon Looney (6-6) in 29 minutes of action. Jordan Bell (4-7) added a career postseason-high 11 points along with some tough defense, and Jonas Jerebko pitched in seven rebounds.
Lillard (6-16) paced Portland with 23 points and ten assists while McCollum (9-23) pitched in 22. Seth Curry bounced back from a disappointing opener, hitting a clutch 29-foot three-pointer with just over a minute remaining to give the Blazers the lead. The younger Curry finished with 16 points (5-9) including four three pointers and four steals, all from brother Steph.
After the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr had no problem admitting that his team had dodged a bullet. “Totally. We stole that game. I thought they outplayed us for much of the night, the majority of the night, but we brought enough competitive fire in the second half to overcome their great play. We’ve been here before. I think our experience helped us. We’ve done this a few times, and yeah, we stole it for sure. They outplayed us.”
Iguodala, asked what he saw on the decisive final play, commented, “Well you look at the time and situation, up three so the one thing that you don’t want to do is give up a three. You actually can take risks outside the three-point lines and be extra aggressive. The key is not to give that up. If the guy drives by you, then you still have the lead. When you look at it that way, it wasn’t that good of a play. I just take odds on what you want to do and if the odds are in your favor then for something like that to happen outside of the three point line.”
Questioned about the experience of going head-to-head with his brother with a trip to the NBA Finals on the line, Steph Curry gushed in response. “This was like the coolest experience I think I’ve ever had playing against him. We talked about the stage and he was – he was amazing tonight. Every minute he was out there defensively, he was a pest. Made three big shots in the fourth quarter that were very timely, and for my parents, I know we talked about the whole series, and these last two games, it’s probably nerve-wracking as heck for them, but it worked out perfectly tonight. He played well and we won (laughter).”
The series now shifts to Portland for Game’s 3 and 4 of the series. Action resumes Saturday night at Moda Center with the opening tip scheduled for 6PM.
Tonight tied Golden State’s third-largest postseason comeback dating back to 2015. The largest comeback over that span was a 25-point comeback on May 14, 2017 vs. the Spurs.
Golden State is now 32-4 in games Steph Curry has played that Kevin Durant has missed, going 29-1 in the last 30 of those games.
Three years ago today, Steph Curry registered his 45th consecutive postseason game with at least one three point basket, breaking Reggie Miller’s then NBA record of 44 straight. After tonight’s game, Curry’s record streak now stands at 104 games.