Trail Blazers Can't Keep It Close In Game Two

by Casey Holdahl
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OAKLAND -- In Game One of their first round matchup versus the Warriors, the Trail Blazers played the defending Western Conference champions about as closely as you can while still coming away with a loss. In Game Two, only one of those things happened.

The Trail Blazers fell behind by as many as 16 points in the first quarter and 34 in the second half before eventually losing 110-81 to the Warriors in Game Two in front of a sellout crowd of 19,596 at Oracle Arena Wednesday night.

The Warriors now lead the series 2-0 with games Three and Four to be played in Portland at the Moda Center.

For a brief moment, it looked as though perhaps the Trail Blazers might be able to take advantage of both Kevin Durant and Shaun Livingston sitting out Game Two with various injuries, with Portland taking a quick 9-4 lead after a Damian Lillard layup with 8:50 to play in the first quarter.

But that would be about as good as it would get for the Trail Blazers Wednesday night. The Warriors would respond to their slow start with a 14-0 run, which then extended to 20-2 after what would be one of many JaVale McGee dunks to put Golden State up 24-11.

“We can't allow JaVale McGee to come in and impact the game the way he has,” said Damian Lillard. “We've seen him play a number of games, and he has his moments, but he's not coming in doing what he's been doing in these first two games. We've got to try to limit that if we want a chance to win games.”

Portland would finish the first quarter shooting 27 percent from the field and 14 percent from three while committing eight turnovers for 10 Golden State points, the result being a 13-point deficit going into the second quarter.

Maurice Harkless and the Trail Blazers bench, a unit whose production in Game One was nearly nonexistent, would help Portland get back into the game in the second quarter. Harkless would score 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting in the quarter while Al-Farouq Aminu and Allen Crabbe combined for nine points.

That trio, along with Evan Turner, who once again started at small forward, were also primarily responsible for holding the Warriors to 40 percent shooting from the field and 16 percent shooting from three in the quarter, allowing the Trail Blazers to cut Golden State’s lead to one with 3:38 to play in the half.

Golden State would push the lead back up to nine before the intermission, but after spending most of the first half trailing by double-digits, that had to feel like a win for the road team.

That feeling wouldn’t last long in the second half. Golden State would outscore Portland 11-2 to start the third, taking a 18-point lead less than three minutes into the quarter. That lead would balloon to 25 before the start of the fourth.

“They're the best third quarter team in the league,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts.  “I always think a lot of great teams really know how to turn up the screws in the third quarter and take a ten-point lead or nine-point lead and get it to 15 or whatever and make it a more difficult game, and that's what they did.”

Stotts stuck with his rotation to start the final quarter, but soon looked to his deep bench to finish out the night with the game well out of reach.

The Trail Blazers were led by Harkless, who scored all 15 of his points in the first half while also finishing with eight rebounds and an assist in 29 minutes.

Damian Lillard followed up his 34-point performance in Game One with 12 points on 5-of-17 shooting in Game Two and four rebounds in 29 minutes. CJ McCollum, who had a game-high 41 points in the Game One loss, went 4-of-17 for 11 points, five rebounds and two assists in 31 minutes.

Shabazz Napier scored 10 points off the bench, while Aminu added nine points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes.

The Warriors were led by Curry, who went 6-of-18 for 19 points, six rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes. McGee went a perfect 7-of-7 from the field, not that surprising considering all of his attempts were either dunks or layups, for 15 points and five rebounds in 13 minutes.

“They’ve been able to get into the lane and then guys have to help and that just opens up lobs and offensive rebounds for (McGee).” said Harkless. “He’s been doing a great job just staying around the rim, staying active around the rim at both ends. Blocking shots and getting putbacks and easy dunks from guys just throwing it up to him.”

Klay Thompson added 16, and Ian Clark finished with 13 points off the bench.

The series now moves to Portland for Game Three, which is scheduled for Saturday night at the Moda Center.

“It’s a must-win game, for sure,” said Harkless of Game Three. “We’ve got to win that game. If we want a chance to win the series, we have to win Game Three.”

Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm on KGW, TNT and 620 AM.