Outplayed Warriors steal 2-0 lead

Golden State's Draymond Green (left) making a late basket for two of his 16 points against Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday. The Warriors won 114-111 to take a 2-0 lead. PHOTO: REUTERS
Golden State's Draymond Green (left) making a late basket for two of his 16 points against Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday. The Warriors won 114-111 to take a 2-0 lead. PHOTO: REUTERS

OAKLAND (California) • The Golden State Warriors, outgunned by the underdogs Portland Trail Blazers for 47 minutes and without their two most productive big men, employed an unusual strategy when things got desperate.

They went away from their backcourt strength and attacked the basket with two of their biggest guys still standing.

Surprisingly, it worked.

Draymond Green lobbed to Kevon Looney for a go-ahead hoop with 52.9sec left, then had a lay-up of his own 40sec later to help hosts Warriors win 114-111 for a 2-0 lead in the National Basketball Association Western Conference Finals.

"We stole that game," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said at the Oracle Arena on Thursday night.

"They outplayed us for 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."

Green, who had a brilliant all-round game, contributing 16 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks, agreed: "Our experience really paid off for us tonight, having a bunch of guys who just won't quit."

  • 54-27 

  • Portland's points from three-point range against Golden State's.

The best-of-seven series moves to Portland for Games 3 and 4 today and Monday. The Warriors' Kevin Durant, who along with front-court sidekick DeMarcus Cousins, missed the first two games, has been ruled out for both games because of a strained right calf.

After trailing by as many as 17 points in the third quarter and by eight with just 4min 28sec to play, the top-seeded Warriors scored 14 of the game's final 17 points.

Green's lob to Looney came after Seth Curry, going toe-to-toe with brother Stephen in a historic match-up, had put Portland up 111-110 with 62sec remaining.

After C.J. McCollum misfired with a chance to counter Looney's hoop, they were again made to pay by Green with 12.3sec to play.

Needing a three-pointer to tie, Damian Lillard had the ball stripped by Andre Iguodala while elevating for his attempt.

"They stole it, but they earned it down the stretch," admitted McCollum, who had 22 points.

Stephen Curry had 37 points to lead the Warriors, who have lost just once in their last 11 play-off games against Portland.

Klay Thompson added 24 points and Looney chipped in 14 for Golden State, who outshot Portland 51.2 per cent to 44.2 and outrebounded the visitors 50-37.

"Everybody contributed," Green said of the Durant-less attack. "Obviously, we're a much better team with him. But, right now, we're a very confident group."

Lillard had 23 points and 10 assists to lead the Trail Blazers, who lost despite outscoring Golden State 54 points to 27 on treys.

"You hate to lose a game, but I think we showed that we can compete with them," Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.

"It was a much better game than we played in Game 1. So we've got to take that into Game 3."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2019, with the headline 'Outplayed Warriors steal 2-0 lead'. Print Edition | Subscribe