PORTLAND — Golden State’s Draymond Green’s three-pointer with 3.6 seconds left in the game, his first three points of the game, sent the game into overtime.
However, the Portland Trail Blazers won a Wild West shootout 119-117 at the Moda Center in Portland behind 26 points from LaMarcus Aldridge, 24 points from Wesley Matthews, dodging a 47-point effort by Golden State’s Stephen Curry.
Matthews’ competitive spirit is rarely called into question.
Prior to Sunday’s primetime match-up with the Warriors, he said he was challenged by Aldridge.
What was the challenge posed to Matthews by the All-Star forward?
“It was a clip of a flashback when he was first here or something. Fighting through screens, just guarding and I was like ‘man, that’s the old Wes,’ ” recounts Aldridge. “And he was like, ‘what do you mean that’s the old Wes?’
“So he took it personal tonight and he came out and played great for us.”
Curry made his first shot of the game and it seemed like nearly everything he shot the rest of the game was like throwing rocks into the ocean.
“Even though he got off a little bit in the first half and I wasn’t really matched-up with him that much, I still took it personal,” said Matthews of Curry’s hot start.
In the fourth quarter the game accelerated to 88 like Doc Brown’s Delorean with the Flux Capacitor taking the fans at the Moda Center and those watching at home to a classic in real time.
“That might have been the best game of the year in the NBA. It’s got to be up there,” Matthews said. “Both teams rose to the occasion. It seemed like every play one team made, the other one countered. But I was just glad we were on the other end of it.”
There were 16 lead changes in the game, 10 of which happened in the fourth quarter and overtime.
The Blazers have had their share of dramatic finishes but the fourth quarter with both team trading daggers ranks right at the top.
“That might have been the best game of the year in the NBA. It’s got to be up there,” Matthews said.
An 8-0 run in the final 45 seconds of the first half by the Warriors gave them an eight-point halftime lead over the Blazers.
Curry was fouled on a last-second three-pointer by Damian Lillard, sending him to the line for his 19th, 20th and 21st point of the night.
While they had a terrible end to the first half, Portland bounced back thanks in large part to the play of Matthews, making Curry work on the defensive end and pouring in 19 points in the second half and overtime.
“Wes played a terrific game,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “He made some big shots. (And) his defense, I mean the stamina that it took to work as hard as he did on Steph and then to make the plays that he did on the offensive end, that was big time.”
“He make him work the whole game,” added Batum — who finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds — on Matthews’ defense on Curry. “He missed two or three shots at the end because he was tired. That was because of him. His work paid off at the end.”
Alas, the Blazers survived thanks to a timely miss on the potential game-winner by Andre Iguodala.
Aldridge also played fantastic defense on Curry when he was switched on to him, something Matthews was eager to point out.
Aldridge said he didn’t to allow Curry’s signature step-back three so he crowded him, forcing a drive to the lane and a midrange jumper, both misses.
The win ensures the Blazers will place no-lower than fifth in the Western Conference and also locks them in a match-up against the Houston Rockets.
The home court advantage in that series is still to be determined.