The Golden State Warriors rode an 11-game winning streak heading into the All-Star break, with an NBA best 48-4 record. The Dubs were well represented in Toronto with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green participating in numerous All-Star festivities. In short, the Warriors were on top of the world heading into tonight’s matchup. And subsequently, they were brought back down to earth at the Moda Center.
Damian Lillard had a career night as he single-handedly lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 28-point win, delivering Golden State their worst loss of the season. For Portland, a win of this caliber gives them strong momentum as they look to ride the second half of the season into the playoffs. For the Warriors, their fifth loss will also serve as a wake-up call to get back to the grind of the regular season.
Lillard’s Career Night
Coming off another All-Star snub, Damian Lillard made a statement in the Blazers win over the defending champs, scoring a career-high 51 points. Showing his ability to score from nearly anywhere on the floor, Lillard was the forefront for the Blazers’ high scoring first quarter.
Although their defense has been one of their many strengths so far this season, the Warriors allowed Portland to drop 42 points in just the first quarter. The defending champs managed to cut the lead to single digits at the half, but Portland ran away with the game in the third quarter, outscoring Golden State 36-17. By the time the fourth quarter came, Lillard and the Blazers had effectively taken the W.
In addition to Lillard’s insane scoring output, C.J. McCollum contributed with 21 points, and Mason Plumlee added a double-digit performance as well. But rightfully so, the man of the night was Damian Lillard, whose impact on the game left coach Steve Kerr impressed, commenting, “He was phenomenal. He was great. He looked like Steph Curry out there.” Lillard is the unquestioned leader of this Portland squad, and tonight’s performance was evident of that. He’ll carry this team on his shoulders towards the postseason, and tonight’s win was another step towards that goal.
For Golden State: Back to Reality
The Warriors’ Big Three were unable to continue their winning streak at the Moda Center. Stephen Curry scored 30 points, Thompson provided 23 and Draymond managed 14 points in their fifth loss of the season. Perhaps the biggest talk for Golden State coming into the second half of the season was the thought of breaking the 95-96 Chicago Bulls record for single-season wins. The possibility of achieving such an accomplishment will continue to loom over the defending champs for the rest of the regular season. But if there is one important thing to take away from this loss, it’s that the Warriors have to go back to playing their winning style of basketball.
Perhaps it was an All-Star weekend hangover, but the Warriors did not play their brand of basketball that has placed them atop the league. They continuously played from behind for the duration of the game and failed to show their championship winning defense. This blowout loss was a wake-up call. It was a reminder to the Warriors that now it is back to the grind of the regular season, and if they truly want to repeat as NBA champions they’ll have to put in the effort every night. The Warriors have been known to bounce back successfully after losses, and they’ll aim to do just that when they head to the Staples Center to take on their division rival Los Angeles Clippers.