The Warriors won’t finish any higher than sixth in the Western Conference, and they still need to win one more game to lock down that particular spot and a first round matchup against the Clippers. That’s the reality after losing 119-117 to the Blazers, who weathered a Stephen Curry blizzard to guarantee themselves the fifth spot and a first round matchup against the Rockets.
“It seemed like the game was out of our hands, (and) we got back into the game,” said Mark Jackson. “Just a tremendous effort from top to bottom. Disappointing loss, obviously, but there were a lot of bright spots tonight.”
The Warriors led this one at halftime, but Jackson was right. It seemed like Golden State lost control of the game in the third quarter, when Wesley Matthews and Mo Williams were incapable of missing and LaMarcus Aldridge did LaMarcus Aldridge things.
But Curry scored 17 of his 47 points in the fourth quarter (which included 14 from Curry in a 2:31 span), and Klay Thompson made up for a scoreless first half with 25 points in the second half and overtime to keep the Warriors in it.
After Curry’s 14-point outburst in the middle of the fourth, he finished that quarter looking absolutely exhausted. He made 1-of-5 shots and had a turnover in the last six minutes, and with Portland’s defense crowding him once again at the end of regulation he found Draymond Green. Green stepped back and nailed a three with Kobe-like trajectory.
“You think about it, 47 points and he made the right play. Draymond off of his pass gets a tough shot, makes a three and sends it into overtime. And to end of the ballgame, again, Steph Curry makes the correct play. I just love the guy,” said Jackson.
The last play of the game featured Curry penetrating and kicking to a wide-open Andre Iguodala, who only missed three of his 10 shot attempts all night. Unfortunately for the Warriors, his three attempt to win the game was off … slightly.
“I was making sure I got some lift on it and followed through. It was on line. It felt good. It just didn’t go in. Great game, though,” Iguodala said. “It was just a game that a basketball fan would enjoy to watch.”
Damn straight. The Warriors have played too many exciting games to go back and count this season, and this was one of the best. It feels like Golden State usually falls short whenever Curry is at his hottest, but that did nothing to deter Mark Jackson from making a proclamation most Warriors fans (and a lot of NBA observers from across the country) would have a hard time disagreeing with.
“He’s a superstar basketball player and he’s first-team All-NBA. I don’t know who is voting, but the year that the guy has had has been absolutely amazing,” Jackson said.
Curry hit such a wide variety of difficult shots — contested threes, runners, up-and-unders, but the shot he hit that he followed with the pose made in the photo above … that’s what I’ll remember from this game. We’ve been seeing games like these about once each month for a year and a half, and they never get old. The Warriors are clearly at their best when everyone is involved, but when half the team takes the night off and Curry rescues them like he did on Sunday night, that’s when I start wondering whether he may end up becoming the best player in franchise history.
— No word from Mark Jackson on Andrew Bogut’s injury. There was a collision in the paint in the fourth quarter, and Bogut fell out of it clutching his ribs. Earlier in the second half, he was out for a while and the Warriors weren’t the same in his absence. He was lying on the baseline for part of that time, doing the kinds of back stretches I know all too well.
We probably won’t see Bogut until the playoffs, in other words.
— The Warriors had three guys in double figures — Curry, Thompson and Iguodala. The Blazers had six — every starter plus Williams.
— Damian Lillard WAS fouled on the Blazers’ last offensive possession, but not by Thompson. Jermaine O’Neal caught Lillard in the face with his hand, while Thompson didn’t seem to touch him at all. So while Lillard deserved to get to the foul line, Thompson should’ve remained in the game … and since Thompson was scorching hot in overtime (3-for-4, nine points), he probably would’ve been Curry’s first choice for a game-winning assist instead of Iguodala.
— Here’s how Iguodala described Curry after the game:
“You can tell whenever he goes out there, he kind of has that aura where no matter who comes to see him play, he’s playing like that’s the only time they might ever see him play.”
“There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time, I owe him my best,” Joe DiMaggio once said. (Source: The Sporting News — April 4, 1951)