OAKLAND — No lead is ever safe versus a team like the Golden State Warriors, which is something the Portland Trail Blazers already knew, but it doesn’t make the end result any easier to stomach.
Portland took a 15-point lead into the halftime intermission, only to see the entirety of that advantage, and then some, vanish in the third quarter on the way to losing Game 2 114-111 in front of a sellout crowd of 19,596 Thursday night at Oracle Arena.
“You hate to lose a game, but I think we showed that we can compete with them,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “It was a much better game than we played in Game 1. Now we’ve got to go get two at home but it starts with Game 3.”
The Warriors now lead the series 2-0 with the next two games to be played in Portland.
After an abysmal shooting night in Game 1, the Trail Blazers came out firing on all cylinders in Game 2. Portland shot 49 percent from the field and went 11-of-22 from three in the first half to go up by as many as 17 points before taking what would be a comfortable 65-50 lead versus just about any other team in the NBA into the intermission.
And while the Trail Blazers had to know a Warriors run would eventually come, they probably didn’t figure it would happen so fast. Golden State started the first four minutes of the third quarter by outscoring Portland 16-4, with Stephen Curry doing most of the damage, to cut Portland’s lead to 69-66.
Golden State would eventually go up by five in the third after an Alfonzo McKinnie three, though the Blazers were able to tie the game at 89-89 going into the fourth.
“We played a good first half and didn’t have enough in the second half to close it out and keep that lead,” said Seth Curry. “We lost it in the third quarter when we let them get back into it, five minutes into the game heading into the second half. With this team you can’t let that go to waste that quickly.”
After weathering the storm, the Blazers push back in the fourth behind the play of Seth Curry and Meyers Leonard.
“It was a pretty good run,” said Stotts of Golden State’s comeback. “They made threes, forced turnovers, got aggressive defensively. I liked that we didn’t lose our composure and got back into the game and took a nice lead.”
A Leonard three with 4:28 to play gave Portland a 108-100 advantage, which one would have hoped would have been enough of a lead and little enough time to escape with a win and tilt home court advantage in the Trail Blazers’ favor.
But the Warriors would close the game out on a 14-3 run thereafter to come away with the victory.
“I mean, they stole it, but they earned it down the stretch,” said CJ McCollum. “They made more plays than us in the last two minutes, last three minutes, but I like our chances going forward. I like the way we came out and competed.”
The Blazers had a chance to tie the game at the end of regulation, but Andre Igoudala stripped Damian Lillard to ensure the win.
“We had a 15-point lead at halftime,” said Moe Harkless, “They came out and made a run third quarter, tied it up at the end of the third, and even then I think we were up six or eight with six minutes to go. I think we had to call timeout without about six minutes to go and we were up six, still in a good position, and unfortunately we weren’t able to close it out.”
The Blazers were led by Lillard, who went 6-of-16 from the field and 5-of-12 from three for 23 points to go with 10 assists, five rebounds and just two turnovers in 42 minutes.
CJ McCollum scored 16 of his 22 points in the first half while also logging five assists and three rebounds.
Seth Curry went 5-of-9 from the field and 4-of-7 from three for 16 points while also getting four steals, all at the expense of his brother Stephen, Rodney Hood and Moe Harkless each finished with 12 points.
“It felt good, it felt like I changed the game and put in more energy,” said Seth Curry. “I just made (Stephen Curry) work harder to get shots. I mean he is going to put numbers up, he is going to play well to try and change the momentum.”
Stephen Curry led all scorers with 37 points on 11-of-22 shooting from the field, 4-of-14 shooting from three and 11-of-11 shooting from the free throw line, with three of those coming at a critical time in the fourth quarter after he was fouled by Lillard on a three-point attempt.
Klay Thompson finished with 24 points, and Draymond Green came within shouting distance of a triple-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists while also blocking five shots.
Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell combined for 25 points off the bench.
Next up, the series heads to Portland, with Game 3 scheduled for Saturday at the Moda Center.
“We got to bring that same energy at home,” said McCollum, “understand that this is the first time in 19 years we’ve been in the Conference Final. I know they will be excited and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity playing at home and building on what we’ve done. Being down 0-2, it’s not what you would like to see but it’s our reality, so now we got to go get some at home.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. on ESPN and Rip City Radio 620 AM.