PORTLAND — Klay Thompson’s running jumper with 8.7 second left gave the Warriors a 91-90 lead, which ended up being all Golden State needed as the Trail Blazers turned the ball over on their final three possessions to end the game on a losing note, 95-90 on Sunday at the Moda Center.
The Trail Blazers first two games of the season have been something of a mixed bag.
They won their opener against an Oklahoma City team with only nine healthy bodies and were defeated by a surprisingly stout Sacramento Kings team on Friday.
On Sunday, the Blazers, and everyone else, knew who was waiting on the other side in the Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors provided the Blazers with their toughest defensive challenge of the young season boasting the most prolific three-point shooting duo in the league: “The Splash Brothers,” Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry.
Thompson was red hot to start the game, scoring 15 of his 29 points in the first quarter, helping the Warriors to a 30-22 lead.
Will Barton played his first meaningful minutes of the season in the first quarter, and with Joel Freeland out with a sprained food, Stotts turned to Thomas Robinson to bring energy off the bench.
Matthews hit Robinson for the play of the game when he threw a lob to a flying Robinson who caught the ball with one hand and slammed it with 5:59 in the second quarter to bring Portland within one after trailing by as much as 12.
Meanwhile, Damian Lillard continued his early-season struggles from the field, experiencing his first real slump as a professional going 11-for-41 in the first three games.
“I don’t know,” he said. “The best thing I can tell you about it is that it’s frustrating. A better rhythm for me might mean 3-0. It could be that big of a difference.”
A floater off the backboard in the fourth quarter that didn’t go in stood out for the third-year guard.
“All I had to do was hit a floater off the glass, and I kind of hit it and it rolled off the rim and I’m like ‘come on, man,’ running down the court like ‘that has to go in,’ ” he said. “I just have to understand I’ll make those shots and not get too frustrated.”
Thompson resumed his crusade with 3:19 left in the fourth quarter by delivering a thunderous slam on Robin Lopez to put the Warriors up 85-84. Then he hit another three-pointer on the following possession.
“He hit some very difficult shots,” Lopez said. “He had a great game but that wasn’t why they won. I think we had a few other mistakes.”
Aldridge was terrific, willing the Blazers offense in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of his 26 points to go with 13 rebounds.
The Blazers were up by one point when the Warriors trapped Wesley Matthews on an in-bounds, knocking the ball loose in which a skirmish ensued, sending the ball out of bounds to the Blazers.
But a replay review awarded the Warriors the ball, and that led to Thompson’s eventual game-winner.
“Apparently not,” Matthews said when asked whether he thought he was fouled. “(The referee) didn’t deem it a foul so you know I got to be stronger with the ball.”
Stotts said about the play: “We anticipated them trapping. Wes caught it on the sideline. I don’t know if they fouled him or not-if you’re not trying to foul but still foul-I don’t know. I didn’t have a replay of that.”
Aldridge lost the handle of a pass that went out of bounds with 6 seconds left and two Curry free-throws put Golden State up by three before the Blazers capped off their inept final seconds with another turnover.
“I feel like last year it was instant. I think that kind of spoiled us,” said Aldridge about the team’s offense. “We started the season, it was just so easy how the offense flowed. This year it’s more of a learning process.”
Through three games, the Blazers’ offense has been uncharacteristically mediocre while their defense has kept them in games.
“We have to try to put both ends together,” Lillard said.
Up next for the Blazers is a date LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.