Curry and company outlasted the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday night 125-117 in an old-fashioned shootout at Oracle.
McCollum was absolutely Curry-esque in the first half, when he went bananas, scoring 26 points including 12 points in the final four minutes of the second quarter to put the Blazers on top 71-69 at halftime. The 71 points were the most any team has scored on the Warriors in any half all season.
Curry said that when someone has it going like that you just have to try to make them work for every shot:
“If you look at the first half, he got a lot of attempts but he made some tough ones, and you can’t get discouraged by that especially because he had to work pretty hard to get most of them. There were two or three that we gave up that were way too easy, and for a guy that has it going it can turn a 16 point half into a 26 point half pretty quick.”
Portland was without Damian Lillard for the fifth straight game and that left McCollum as the only offensive creator.
He was aided by Klay Thompson, who got in foul trouble and was forced to sit early in the game allowing McCollum to feast in his absence.
Draymond Green joined Thompson in foul trouble as two of the Warriors best defenders just couldn’t stay on the floor.
Green still finished with nine points, seven rebounds and 11 assists. Green is averaging 10.2 assists over his last four games and is seventh in the league in assists per game this year.
Kevin Durant kept the Warriors in it, as he nearly matched McCollum’s production in the first half, scoring 21 points on just eight shots. He ended the game just as efficiently with 30 points on 9-of-16 shooting, and tossed in five boards and three blocks. Two of the blocks coming on the play of the night that ignited the crowd.
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) January 5, 2017
Durant has been a shot blocking beast this season and is averaging a career best 1.5 blocks per game, and Green said that’s been huge for the Warriors:
“He’s been amazing. And it’s not just rim protection, he’s getting those blocks all over the floor. And that really changes the game for us, when he’s using his length like that on the defensive end. It causes havoc for teams and makes us very tough to score on when he’s flying around like that.”
After the half, the original Curry took over, leading the Warriors with 35 points, topping 30 points for the first time since December 13.
Curry put up 25 shot attempts, which has not been the norm this year, and is actually the most he’s shot since November 7 when he took 26.
He said that he’s trying to be more aggressive, at least to a point:
“I’m not going to fall into the temptation of abandoning what makes us successful just to say I shot more. I have to be aggressive and not turn down shots that I usually take and can make but the way we’ve been flowing and especially down the stretch you have to rise up for those kinds of moments.”
Thompson was also able to refocus at halftime and came back with defensive vengeance as he held McCollum to just two points in the third. And McCollum suffered his own case of the fouls and picked up three in the quarter forcing him off the floor late. He would finish with 35 points but on a not so efficient 31 shots.
Green said that blitzing him on the pick-and-rolls and just paying more attention to him was the key:
“Then all of a sudden when you take him out of his rhythm and he got some open shots he missed them, because he’s not in rhythm. As opposed to the first half he was in rhythm and he started hitting some tough ones.”
Zaza Pachulia continues his best stretch in a Warriors uniform, as he put up 13 points and three rebounds in 19 minutes of action. The Warriors starting center has now scored in double figures for the second straight game after only reaching that mark twice previously all season.
Pachulia said that there’s been one key to his scoring outburst recently:
“Just being selfish. Attacking the rim and not passing at all. No, I just feel more comfortable out there. It was my new year’s resolution and I just feel better.”
The big man also pitched in three blocked shots after only having 13 combined the rest of the year. Weirder still is that this is the third time he’s had a three-block game. Which means in games that Pachulia doesn’t block three shots he is averaging 0.2 blocks per game—which is not great.
But the big news was Curry, who many have wondered loudly if something is wrong with the reigning two-time MVP.
He answered very loudly Wednesday, new year, same Curry.
After the win, Oracle gets a day of rest before it comes alive again as the Warriors host the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night. The Grizzlies have been one of the few teams to hang an L on the Warriors this year, as they laid waste to Golden State December 10 in Memphis, winning by 21.
The Warriors came into the game 30-5 on the year, which made them the first team in NBA history to start a season 30-5 or better in three straight seasons. Last year they started the year 33-2 and in 2014-15 they also started the year 30-5. … After beating the Blazers 4-1 in the second round of last year’s playoffs, the Warriors had zero trouble with Portland before tonight, winning by 23 and 45 earlier this season. … The Warriors scored 40 points in the first quarter, which marked their league leading eighth time this season that they have poured in at least 40 in a quarter.