Notebook: Warriors 103, Blazers 97

Posted Jan 12, 2013 2:06 AM

By Geoff Lepper, for

THE FACTS: Making his first professional appearance in his hometown of Oakland, Portland Trail Blazers rookie Damian Lillard stole the show Friday. The Golden State Warriors weren't going to let him steal the victory, however.

Lillard, the No. 6 pick in this year's draft, scored a career-high 37 points but couldn't quite drag the Blazers all the way back from a 20-point third-quarter deficit and the Warriors hung on to win 103-97.

David Lee led Golden State with 24 points and 10 rebounds, his league-best 15th game with at least 20 and 10 in those categories. Stephen Curry contributed 22 points and 12 assists for the Warriors, who broke a two-game losing streak.

Lillard missed seven straight shots and was 3-for-11 on the night before exploding for 29 points over the game's final 16 1/2 minutes. He went 12-for-14 and 5-for-7 on 3-pointers in that stretch, an unstoppable display that almost snatched a fifth straight victory for Portland.

Lillard's teammates weren't able to match his brilliance, however. The rest of the Trail Blazers shot just 29.9 percent from the floor, including a combined 6-for-29 performance from LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews.

QUOTABLE: "Eleven turnovers; we took care of the basketball. Twenty-eight assists; we were unselfish on the offensive end. This is preparing us. Like I told my guys, where we expect to go, in these games, you are going to have to find a way to stop special players, and this is great preparation for us."
-- Warriors coach Mark Jackson

THE STAT: Portland's 43 3-point attempts were the second-most by any squad in the NBA this season, the most by any Blazers team since 1985-86 and an all-time record for a Warriors opponent.

TURNING POINT: The Warriors' lead -- 67-47 at its highest, with 5:36 remaining in the third quarter -- had melted to a mere four points after Nicolas Batum's tip-in with 44.5 seconds left. Golden State held the ball to drain some block before finding a cutting Curry en route to the basket. Curry drew a second defender and then deftly slipped the ball to Carl Landry, who drained a twisting layup at the 24.7-second mark to make it 100-94, Golden State. Lillard dropped one last 3-pointer, but the Warriors converted three of four free throws to ice proceedings.

QUOTABLE II: "I had a game like this in college, but that ended up with a win. That's why this is bittersweet."
-- Damian Lillard

HOT: When Lillard connected on a falling-down jumper at the 4:16 mark of the third quarter, it seemed more like a lucky break than a harbinger of what was to come. But the former Weber State star knocked down a 3-opinter with his next attempt, and soon it was off the races. Portland coach Terry Stotts went small, using Aldridge for only 5:30 of the final 14:52 and not playing starting center J.J. Hickson over the game's last 18 minutes, forcing the Warriors to defend shooters on the 3-point arc and opening lanes for Lillard to exploit. He finished 15-for-25 on the evening.

QUOTABLE III: "It was a special period of basketball by [Lillard]. As a fan, I'm sure it was fun to watch. All I can do is look on the other end and shake my head and [Portland] coach [Terry] Stotts said, 'He's pretty good, ain't he?' But so's my guy. When you put together 22 and 12 and play all those minutes being the guy trying to contain him -- it was a special battle."
-- Mark Jackson

FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: Landry had an especially efficient night off the bench for the Warriors, providing 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting and collecting seven rebounds in 23 minutes.

BAD MOVE: It was a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't kind of night for Stotts, who knew he had to get significant rest at some point along the way for a quartet of players who went at least 40 minutes Thursday in beating Miami: Aldridge, Batum, Lillard and Matthews. Portland trailed by seven when Stotts pulled the last of that group with 29.9 seconds left in the first quarter; by the time the majority of them were back on the court in the second period, the Trail Blazers were down 17 -- 39-22 some 7:10 from halftime.

NOT: Tired or not, the Trail Blazers missed a wide array of absolute gimmies and wide-open jumpers in the first half, when Portland was held to 11-for-47 from the floor (23.4 percent) and 4-for-19 (21.1 percent) from behind the arc.

ROOKIE WATCH: Warriors forward Harrison Barnes started fast before becoming a bit of a footnote, but still finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and two steals.

NOTABLE: Portland shot 38.0 percent as a team, and the Warriors improved to 9-1 when they hold the opposition to less than 40.0 this season.. . . This is Golden State's best start since going 26-10 to open the 1991-92 season.

UP NEXT: For the Trail Blazers, Sunday vs. Oklahoma City, Tuesday @ Denver, Wednesday vs. Cleveland. For the Warriors, Sunday @ Denver, Wednesday vs. Miami, Friday @ San Antonio.