Playoff Run Ends With Overtime Loss To Warriors In Game 4
PORTLAND -- And just like that, the Trail Blazers' 2019 playoff run comes to a close.
The Trail Blazers couldn't hold on to a double-digit, second-half lead, something that has dogged them throughout the Western Conference Finals, but managed to at least force overtime. But in the end, the Warriors made the plays when it mattered the most, resulting in the Blazers losing 119-117 in front of a sellout crowd of 20,064 Monday night at the Moda Center.
"We couldn't get over the hump," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "I think it was more of a demonstration of how good they are and how good they have been over years and they find ways to win. It's a disappointing loss, but for me, it was an outstanding season. The guys in the locker room are special. It's been a special season. Always tough to lose the last game of the year, but I couldn't be more proud of the group that we've had."
With the loss, the Trail Blazers have been swept 4-0. The trip to the Western Conference Finals was Portland's first since 2000.
"I think it was just a special season for us," said Damian Lillard. "We're coming off back-to-back sweeps. It's another sweep, but you'd rather be swept in the Western Conference Finals than in the first round. I just think we look back at the season overall, and the way we responded after a lot of people got on our cases, a lot of people came down on us, and we got back to work. Each guy came back better individually and we put together a great season."
Down 3-0, a deficit no NBA team has ever overcome in a seven-game series, in going into Game 4, the goal was to simply win a game and force a return to Oakland for Game 5. And if you hadn't watched the first three games of the seasons, you might have thought the Trail Blazers had a good shot at keeping the series going after they led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter and by eight points going into the fourth.
But for those who were paying attention, it was an inevitability more than a probability that the Warriors, as they had done in both Game 2 and Game 3, would make short work of whatever lead the Blazers had late in the game.
After Portland took an 11-point lead early in the fourth, Golden State went on a 16-5 run over the next seven minutes to tie the game at 106-106 with just under four minutes to play. After trading the lead for a few possessions, Klay Thompson tied the game up with a three at 111-111, and with neither team able to put the ball in the basket over the next 1:48, the game went on to overtime.
Both offenses remained anemic in the extra period, though a Draymond Green three-pointer with just under a minute to play gave the Warriors a two-possession advantage at 119-115. Lillard was able to finish a layup to get the deficit down to two, and after Stephen Curry missed a floater with 12.9 to play, Portland had one last chance to tied the game or win the thing and extend the series at least one more game.
But Green would block Lillard's layup attempt out of bounds on the next possession, and with just 3.3 second to go, the Blazers had to rely on a desperation three from the corner from Lillard. The shot was off, ending the game, the series and Portland's season.
"I think the fact that we had a very good regular season, the fact that we were able to win two series, we were very competitive in this series, even though it was a sweep," said Stotts. "We played competitively. But I think that's a long way away from now. I think when that time comes, we'll be able to reflect. I think it's a little too early to look at how this series helps us right now. Right now, it kind of stings."
The Trail Blazer were led by Leonard, who put up a career-high 30 points on 12-of-16 shooting from the field and 5-of-8 shooting from three to go with 12 rebounds in 40 minutes for the double-double. Leonard, who started for the second consecutive game Monday night, also had three assists, a block and a steal.
"I just went out there and played confident," said Leonard. "Teammates such as Dame down the line tell me to be aggressive and do what I do. Unfortunately our season is over, this is a very special team, guys that really care about each other and come to work every single day ready to go."
Lillard went 11-of-24 from the field for 28 points while also handing out 12 assists for the double-double.
"I think given this being the furthest we've played into the postseason, how teams came after me and still being able to find a way to be productive, I thought I had a great postseason," said Lillard. "Obviously I look back at the times where I struggled the most, and I'm going to critique myself off of that."
CJ McCollum finished with 26 points and seven assists and Zach Collins added 10 points off the bench to round out Portland's double-digit scorers.
Stephen Curry led all scorers 37 points while also logging 12 rebounds and 11 assists for the triple-double in 47 minutes.
Green also added a triple-double with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists to go with two blocks. Klay Thompson added 17 points and Alfonzo McKinnie and Kevon Looney each added 12.
Now, the Warriors go on to face the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Bucks and Raptors. As for the Trail Blazers, they had into the offseason disappointed with the way their year ended, but proud of what they were able to accomplish in the face of adversity.
"We lose our owner (Paul Allen), we dealt with injuries, CJ missed a lot of games at a crucial stretch in the season, and we just kept answering the call," said Lillard. "That takes a group of guys to maybe go from not playing minutes, stepping up, giving us good minutes, trusting each other, leaning on each other. It takes a real group to be able to come together in those hard times on more than one occasion, and I thought we did that.
"We put together a great season and we put ourselves in position to go to the Finals. I think every other team in the league would wish they could be in our shoes; not only making the playoffs but playing for an opportunity to get a chance to go to the Finals, and we just ran up on a team who has been there the last four years."