(DON RYAN / The Associated Press)
PORTLAND — Charles Jenkins has played in 32 games this season for the Warriors and started just 10. Only once had the rookie scored more than 10 points, and had he made one free throw Sunday night, his scoring total would have been 10 times the amount of his season average of 2.8 points per game.
It was, inarguably, the biggest night of his professional career. And yet, for a Trail Blazers fan, it probably wasn’t even the most surprising performance for a point guard.
Portland’s 90-87 win over Golden State on Sunday likely didn’t shock the rabid Rose Garden fans. But the fact that Raymond Felton scored 24 points and knocked down four of his seven 3-pointers might have had them doing quadruple takes at the stat sheet.
The 27-year-old has been one of the more maligned Blazers of the past few years, but after his clutch fourth-quarter led Portland (23-26) to a win, he may get a temporary reprieve.
“I can score if I have to, but if I don’t need to, we’ve got enough scorers. Guys weren’t hitting their shots — it happens like that sometimes,” said Felton, who knocked three 3-pointers in the final period. “It felt good. It’s just good to get a win.”
Sunday’s game featured 15 lead changes as neither team led by more than eight points. However, the Warriors (20-27) did lead by five with 3:37 to play after Brandon Rush hit a 3-pointer. But Portland answered with two free throws from Wesley Matthews, and then a 3-pointer by Felton to tie the score at 85-85.
Golden State retook the lead on a David Lee tip-in with 1:42 to play, but LaMarcus Aldridge put the Blazers back up by one with a fade-away jump shot with 40 seconds to go. Portland forced a miss on the Warriors’ next possession, then Matthews drew a foul and stroked home two foul shots to give his team a three-point lead. Golden State never got a clean look on its final possession, as Jenkins heaved up a 3-pointer that never had a chance.
“I told the guys that’s the only clip we’re going to watch tomorrow during film in corrections,” Blazers interim coach Kaleb Canales said. “I thought the defense, especially those last possessions, was phenomenal. Our communication was great and I thought we got after it.”
Canales was asked after the game if Jenkins was part of his scouting report. Canales said yes, adding that he knew Jenkins was a good player.
But he couldn’t have expected him to be this good.
The Hofstra product scored 27 points on 13-of-22 shooting to lead all scorers Sunday. His six assists, meanwhile, were a team high. Jenkins wasn’t even inserted into the starting lineup until Nate Robinson scratched due to a strained right hamstring.
Nothing about Jenkins seemed strained.
“Shots were definitely falling, more than they have been in the past couple games,” Jenkins said. “They told me to be aggressive, they all told me the game’s a lot easier when I play aggressive, so that was my mindset coming out.”
Tuesday, the Blazers will host Oklahoma City, the team with the best record in the Western Conference which knocked off the Miami Heat on Sunday night.