Durant shines in Golden State playoff debut in Game 1 win
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Kevin Durant patted his chest after two big baskets in the fourth quarter and let everybody know ”I got this!” Stephen Curry knocked down a timely baseline 3-pointer, reached his hand high and gestured to further ignite a raucous sellout crowd.
On a day Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum put on a dazzling display of shot-making for Portland, the NBA’s top-seeded team of superstars found its touch down the stretch and defended with purpose.
Durant had 32 points and 10 rebounds in his Golden State playoff debut, Curry scored 29 points, and the Warriors withstood that sensational day by the Trail Blazers’ dynamic backcourt duo to win Game 1 of the first-round series 121-109 on Sunday.
McCollum scored a playoff career-best 41 points, and Lillard had 34, but the Warriors made the crucial big plays on both ends down the stretch with Portland missing injured center Jusuf Nurkic.
”When they got it going, they’re hitting tough shots in the first half, some you’ve just got to live with, we played great defense,” Curry said. ”They were just able to finish, but over the course of 48 you just try to wear them down.”
Draymond Green had 19 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, five blocked shots and three steals to help last season’s second-place team take the first step in what it is counting on to be a championship run.
Durant shot 12 for 20, showing no issues with a recent left knee injury that sidelined him 19 games before he returned for the final three regular-season contests with the NBA-best Warriors.
”The game ratchets up when you get into the playoffs,” Durant said. ”I definitely felt good out there.”
Game 2 is Wednesday night at Oracle Arena.
The opener in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference semifinals won in five games by Golden State didn’t disappoint featuring two of the NBA’s best backcourt duos. There was a little of everything: physical play, trash talk, deep 3-pointers, monster blocked shots and dazzling dunks. After one flurry of a third-quarter sequence when several players on both teams hit the floor trying to secure a loose ball, four towel guys frantically wiped down the court.
Durant got going fast. KD drove the lane for a one-handed slam midway through the first then knocked down a 3 from the top about a minute later. After missing a dunk but getting fouled, Durant pounded the basket stanchion with his right fist in frustration.
He vowed to take his game to another level as a new season begins – not to mention the quest for his first title.
As the final period got underway, Ian Clark did what he often does to give the Blazers fits and chipped in during a 15-2 run on the way to 12 points off the bench. The 6-foot-3 guard scored a putback off his own miss in the paint one possession then knocked down a 3-pointer the next as Golden State went ahead 97-90 with 8:59 remaining.
McCollum shot 11 of 15 in the first half then began the second 2 for 7 and finished his day 16 of 28, while Lillard went 12 for 26. McCollum’s 27 first-half points matched a Portland playoff record for a half and he and Lillard had 48 of their team’s 56 at the break.
”You’ve got to give them a lot of credit, they got it going,” Green said. ”At some point you have to make them miss.”
The Warriors’ defensive intensity after halftime was the difference in the Blazers’ minds – and Lillard expects everybody to do more.
”Dame and CJ, if they get 80 between them we’ve still got to score another 40 or 50 from somewhere,” coach Terry Stotts said.
Trail Blazers: McCollum is the eighth Portland player with 40-point playoff performance, the second ever of his career. … Lillard and McCollum are the first Blazers teammates to score 34 or more points in a playoff game since Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter on May 19, 1992. … Their 75 points were two off the franchise playoff record by teammates.
Warriors: Curry moved by Wilt Chamberlain (507) for second place on the Warriors list for career playoff field goals. … Curry hit a 3-pointer in his NBA record 59th consecutive playoff game, making his first 1:17 into the game. … Green emphatically blocked a shot by Noah Vonleh in the third as the Portland center playing in place of Nurkic was going up with one hand to dunk.
The Warriors hope to get forward Matt Barnes back from a sprained right ankle and foot Wednesday night for Game 2, while the Blazers were uncertain when Nurkic might be ready to return.
”To be determined,” Stotts said.