Different Venue, Same Result As Blazers Lose Game 3 To Warriors In Portland

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- If there were no third quarters in NBA games, the Trail Blazers would be in pretty good position to defeat the Warriors in the 2019 Western Conference Finals.

Unfortunately, third quarters do exist, even if the Trail Blazers haven't seemed entirely prepared for them.

For the second consecutive game, the Blazers took a double-digit lead into the halftime, only to see said advantage quickly evaporate in the third quarter. And the result was the same, with the Warriors running the Blazers out of their own building in the second half on the way to winning Game 3 110-99 in front of a sellout crowd of 20,214 Saturday night at the Moda Center.

"Our offense fell apart," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "We missed some shots. Took some tough shots. Didn't move the ball as well. They were scoring, so we were taking it out of the net. Didn't get any transition.
So, said at the beginning of the series, to beat Golden State, you've got to be able to score. Scoring 33 in the second half is not going to do it."

The Warriors now lead the series 3-0. No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series.

Both head coaches swapped out their starting centers for Game 3, with Steve Kerr going with Damion Jones in place of Andrew Bogut and Terry Stotts deciding to go with Meyers Leonard in place of Enes Kanter. That gambit payed out for Stotts, with Leonard going 5-of-7 from the field and 2-of-4 from three for 13 points in the first half.

"(Leonard) had a terrific first half like the rest of the team," said Stotts. "I liked his spacing and the way he played in Game 2 in Golden State. He can space the floor, and he and Dame (Lillard), he and CJ (McCollum) have a good two-man game. Obviously it's designed to help our offense a little bit. It looked really good in the first half."

With Leonard creating space with his outside shot and CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard making just enough shots from the field and the team going 6-of-15 from three, the Blazers were able to go up by as many as 18 points in the first half before taking a 66-53 advantage into the intermission.

Though it wouldn't last. The Warriors already started to build momentum at the end of the second quarter and took complete control of the game in the third. Golden State outscored Portland 24-10 in the first nine minutes of the second half to take their first lead of the game at 77-76.

"I thought we were in the game," said Lillard. "But when you give up that run and you don't control the game well enough, it can easily get away from you. And we had some possessions where they had some miscommunication on some switches. Left a few guys open, and they hurt you in those situations."

Both teams would take turns reclaiming the lead over the next few possessions, though the Warriors would eventually outscore Portland by 16 in the quarter to take an 82-79 lead into the fourth.

But unlike Game 2, which saw the Blazers retake a lead, only to have it stripped away in the final four minutes, Portland never got back into the game Saturday night. Golden State's bench, after being outplayed by Portland's in the first half, returned the favor in the fourth, helping the road team build their lead to double digits before finishing off the 11-point victory.

"Second half, it was just a struggle," said Stotts. "I don't know how much it was their bench. They are a championship team. They have been a championship team and they have a style of play, and they continue to play at a certain level, and the second half, we just didn't match that. Whether it was their bench players or their starters, they didn't miss a beat."

While their third-quarter performance was the biggest factor in the loss, the Blazers also missed 13 free throws, were out-rebounded 42-31 and turned the ball over 11 times for 17 Golden State points.

Portland was led by CJ McCollum, who went 7-of-20 from the field, 2-of-10 from three and 7-of-12 from the free throw line for 23 points to go with five assists, three rebounds and two steals in 38 minutes. Damian Lillard went 5-of-18 from the field and 3-of-9 from three for 19 points, six rebounds and six assists, though he also turned the ball over a five times.

"You go up against a wall of defense, sometimes it's three defenders," said Lillard. "It's tough because you're not always going to get a quality look and then when you do get a quality look and don't make it, that just kind of makes it worse.

Leonard finished with a postseason career-high of 16 points, four assists and three rebounds.

"This one stings for me personally because I was given a big opportunity and I feel that, for a good majority of the night, I was helping us win that game and making an impact," said Leonard. "But we didn't come out with a win, so go back to the drawing board and come back Monday night ready to go."

Evan Turner came off the bench to go 5-of-6 from the field for 12 points in 17 minutes.

Stephen Curry led all scorers with 36 points on 11-of-26 shooting from the field and 6-of-16 shooting from three. But the real star was Draymond Green, who terrorized the Blazers on both sides of the ball all night before finishing with a triple-double of 20 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists while also logging four steals and a block.

"(Green) has done so much here, it's hard to look back and say what's the best, what's his best stretch," said Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. "I just know he's playing unbelievably well right now. He's playing with force. He's playing with discipline. He's playing under control. He's not letting anything bother him. Officiating, bad shots, turnovers, he's just moving on to the next play. So from that standpoint, as good as he's ever been."

Klay Thompson rounded out Golden State's double digit scorers with 19 points on 8-of-20 shooting.

Now, the Trail Blazers have the daunting task of being the first team to ever return from a 3-0 deficit, though the first job is simply avoiding a Western Conference Finals sweep by winning Game 4 Monday night.

"We're going to give it our best effort on Monday," said Stotts. "That's all that matters, is we give it our best effort. We give it everything we have on Monday, and whatever happens, happens. But that's -- having the pride and professionalism to give it the best effort and to get a home win, and then -- and then go from there, there's no -- I don't know if it's as much about strategy as about just rallying around and giving it the best effort possible."

Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Moda Center.


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