OAKLAND — If defense wins championships, then the Trail Blazers are going to need to make some strides on that side of the ball before their next game versus the Warriors.
Golden State shot 50 percent from the field and 52 percent from three to defeat Portland 116-94 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals in front of a sellout crowd of 19,596 Tuesday night at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors lead the series 1-0 with Game 2 scheduled for Thursday night in Oakland.
In a game in which the Trail Blazers went 36 percent from the field, made just seven of 28 three-point attempts and turned the ball over 21 times for 31 Warriors points, one might not think that their defense was necessarily the issue. But even with the Trail Blazers’ struggles on the offensive end — the trailed at one point by as many as 17 in the third quarter — they were still well within striking distance, thanks in large part to a considerable advantage in free throws, going into the fourth quarter.
But Portland’s poor showing shooting from the field certainly didn’t help their cause, it was their inability to defend the three-point line, which in and of itself is enough to sink a team versus a team like the Warriors, nor string together stops was ultimately what did the Blazers in.
After outscoring the Warriors 26-23 in the third, the Blazers trailed by seven going into the fourth quarter. But for as bad as the Blazers were defending in the first three quarters, they were even worse in the fourth, allowing the Warriors to shoot 65 percent from the field and 5-of-9 from three. The result was the home team outscoring the road side by 16 points in the final quarter to pull away for the 22-point victory.
The Blazers had five players finish in double figures led by 19 points from Damian Lillard, though he made just 4-of-12 shots from the field and turned the ball over seven times.
Rodney Hood, CJ McCollum and Maurice Harkless all finished with 17 points. Enes Kanter added a double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds while also handing out three assists in just under 29 minutes.
Warriors guard Stephen Curry led all scorers with 36 points on 12-of-23 shooting. His nine three-pointers tied a career postseason best for the former MVP. He also added seven assists and six rebounds in 35 minutes.
Klay Thompson went 10-of-24 from the field for 26 points in 37 minutes. Draymond Green was the only other Warrior to finish in double figures, scoring 12 points to go with 10 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals in 34 minutes.
The Trail Blazers will have a day to regroup before returning to Oracle for Game 2 Thursday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. on ESPN.