Blazers Hang Tough But It's Not Enough On The Road Versus Warriors

by Casey Holdahl
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Beating the Golden State Warriors at home is tough for any team. It’s even tougher for a team playing without the majority of their regular rotation.

The Trail Blazers, despite playing without Damian Lillard (abdominal tendinopathy), CJ McCollum (right pneumothorax), Anfernee Simons (right ankle sprain) and Cody Zeller for the game and Nassir Little (left calf cramp) for most of the second half, hung tough with the team with the best record in the league before eventually falling 104-94 in front of a sellout crowd of 18,064 Wednesday night at Chase Center in San Francisco.

“I just thought as a team, we played hard man,” said Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups. “We played together, we played really hard and I’m proud of our effort. It’s something that we have to make a constant as our squad. And as we start to get back healthy and healthier, playing with that type of urgency is going to be good for us.”

The Trail Blazers are now 11-15 overall and 1-11 on the road this season. They have now lost four-straight, seven of their last eight and have dropped both of their contests versus the Warriors this season.

While most of the talk about Wednesday’s game focused on whether Stephen Curry would make 16 three-pointers in order to break Ray Allen’s record for career threes (he did not), the Trail Blazers remained focused on what they needed to do to give themselves a chance.

And for in the first half, they did about as well as they possibly could, shorthanded as they were. They turned the ball over too much, but they also held Golden State to 34 percent shooting from the field and 24 percent shooting from three in the first half to go into the intermission trailing by just two points.

And if Nassir Little, who got the start at small forward and had 18 of Portland’s 45 first-half points, hadn’t left the game early in the third quarter with a calf cramp, maybe the Trail Blazers would have been able to put a real scare into a team that has lost just twice at home this season.

“I was very happy with Nas,” said Billups. “I thought he played really well on both ends of the floor. He made shots for us tonight, we needed that. He attacked that basket tonight, showed his athleticism and his speed. And defensively, too, I thought he was really good.”

But the combination of losing Little, the lack of ambulatory bench players and the Warriors focusing more on winning the game than Curry’s record, the Trail Blazers fell behind by 10 going into the fourth. They never gave up -- they got thee deficit down to six with just over two minutes to play -- but they never led either.

“When you’re shorthanded, you know you have to make up for it in certain areas, and guys that have been playing, they’re just scrapping,” said Billups. “But that’s what we have to be about, period. Even when we get healthy, I like our chances against anybody when we play that hard with the talent that we have on the roster.”

Norman Powell finished with 26 points, five assists and a steal in nearly 43 minutes. Dennis Smith Jr. also played more than 41 minutes and posted 12 points, six rebounds, five assists and two blocks.

Little went 5-of-8 from the field, 2-of-4 from three and 6-of-10 from the line for 18 points to go with six rebounds, a block and an assist in 25 minutes.

Jusuf Nurkic put up a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds while also leading the team in assists with six before fouling out in 27 minutes. Larry Nance Jr. came off the bench to finish with four points, seven rebounds and five assists in 22 minutes.

Curry got six three-pointers closer to the record and finished with 22 points in 33 minutes.

The Trail Blazers now have three days off before returning home to start another four-game homestand by hosting the Timberwolves Sunday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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