Blazers in playoffs, but you'd never know it
Warriors' Big Three hands Portland worst home defeat
It's official - the Trail Blazers are in the playoffs.
Good thing they're not facing Golden State in the first round.
The Warriors (34-44) will be going on vacation next week, but they punched the clock with a special panache in a 108-87 rout of Portland Tuesday night at the Rose Garden.
It snapped an eight-game home win streak for the Blazers (45-33), who learned early in Tuesday's game that they were officially a playoff team with Sacramento's victory at Houston.
Making the playoffs 'was one of our goals, so that's good,' Portland LaMarcus Aldridge said. 'But we have to keep building, keep finding our rhythm to move forward.'
The Blazers took a step in the other direction Tuesday night.
'Tonight was bad,' Portland coach Nate McMillan said. 'This is one of those games where you burn the tape and move on.'
It was the most one-sided home loss of the season for the Blazers, who have dropped two of three games this season to a Golden State team they'll face again next Wednesday in the regular-season finale at Oakland.
Most of the Portland faithful - and perhaps most of those inside the organization, too - expected the Blazers to come out on top in this one. Instead, they got dominated by a team that has no size, ranks next-to-last in the NBA in rebounding percentage (and was playing without injured center Andris Biedrins) and plays disinterested defense.
'Nothing's a gimme in this league,' Blazer point guard Andre Miller said.
The Big Three - no, not Miami's LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh - collaboratively buried the Blazers Tuesday night.
Monta Ellis, David Lee and Stephen Curry combined for 87 points in the Warriors' free-wheeling, 'what-me-worry?' offensive system.
'They're an up-tempo type team, so they play with some energy,' Miller said. 'Those three guys, they take a lot of shots. If they make half of them, it's a good game for them.'
Ellis, who has averaged 31.7 points against Portland this season, led the way with 30 Tuesday night, draining 11 of 19 shots, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range.
'Monta Ellis was Monta Ellis,' McMillan said. 'We couldn't stop him.'
'He's in a system where he's free to do whatever he wants,' Miller said. 'He gets a lot of minutes, so he knows he's going to get up shots. He's done that to a lot of teams.'
Ellis' backcourt mate, Curry, was deadly as well, making 10 of 21 shots, including 3 of 5 from 3-point territory. Curry contributed 28 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Lee, meanwhile, was outplaying Aldridge inside, going for 29 points and a season-high 20 rebounds while converting 13 of 17 shots. Lee was even more effective after Blazer center Marcus Camby left for good late in the first quarter with a strained neck muscle.
'He was active,' said Aldridge, who finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds in his 41 minutes. 'He took advantage of mismatches. We had to go small when Camby got hurt, and he played big tonight.'
Portland hung in for 2 1/2 quarters despite going 0 for 8 from 3-point range in the first half. The teams went into intermission tied 47-47, and midway through the third period the Warriors clung to a 67-65 lead.
Then the worm turned. Golden State outscored Portland 19-3 the rest of the quarter to go into the final period ahead 84-68, and you could feel the Blazer sphincters tighten as the margin grew. The Warriors scored 37 points and shot .800 from the field in the quarter and outscored Portland 61-40 over the final 24 minutes. The winners wound up firing at a .500 clip from the field for the game and were 7 for 16 from beyond the arc.
'They shot lights out,' said Wesley Matthews, who led the Blazers with 17 points. 'I don't think David Lee missed one shot. I don't think Ellis missed a three. Curry got it going. And it's not like all their shots were easy. Some of them were under duress, and they still knocked them down.'
Still, this wasn't the same Portland team that had beaten Western Conference powers Dallas, San Antonio and Oklahoma City in its three previous home appearances. The Blazers shot .410 from the field, including 3 for 21 on 3-pointers, as Golden State packed the paint and dared the Blazers to fire from the outside.
'One of our worst nights shooting,' Aldridge said. 'We had a lot of open looks; we just didn't make them. It was one of those nights.'
'I wish I could explain it,' McMillan said. 'We looked tired the whole game. We were not reacting. We looked a little winded early, and (the Warriors) pretty much had their rhythm, their tempo most of the way.
'Tonight was bad, it's as simple as that. We never established that we could execute on offense or that defensively we could stop them.'
At halftime, Golden State coach Keith Smart said, he overheard his players talking in the locker room about what they wanted to do in the second half.
'David spoke up and said he wanted to guard Aldridge by himself,' Smart said. 'All those guys - Steph, Monta - started talking. I've been dying for leadership from our team, for someone to step up other than myself or the coaches. When the players step up and say they want to do something, they now take ownership.'
The Blazers seemed to be taking ownership after Tuesday's loss, but in a different way.
Miller said the defeat bothered him.
'That game was important,' he said. 'You never want to let a game slide.'
Brandon Roy was asked what he learned from the game.
'Got to come to play, or we're going to get our butt kicked,' the Blazer guard said.
But Roy said he's not overly concerned about the long-term picture.
'You never want to get blown out, but we're better than we showed tonight,' he said. 'I'd be more concerned if we were out there playing as hard as we could and they blew us out.'
NOTES - Portland's next action is at Utah Thursday. Camby's availability is uncertain. McMillan said he was a victim of whiplash from a fall on the court. 'I don't think it's anything serious,' McMillan said. Camby was off to a good start, grabbing eight rebounds in his 10 minutes of action. ... Portland had six turnovers in the first nine minutes. In the remaining 39 minutes of the game, the Blazers had three, finishing with nine. ... Through three quarters, Golden State was 7 for 11 from 3-point range, Portland 2 for 15. ... Roy and Rudy Fernandez had a terrible time off the Blazer bench, making a collective 3 of 20 shots. Roy, who had eight rebounds in his 16 minutes, was 2 for 11 while Fernandez was 1 for 9. ... It was Aldridge's 33rd double-double of the season. ... Ellis, after Golden State's win: 'My shot was just going down. Tonight was one of those nights where we never took the foot off the pedal.' ... Portland shot .625 on 2-point attempts in the first half, but was only .367 on 2-point tries over the final two quarters. ... Among those in the house Tuesday night - St. Louis Rams tailback Steven Jackson and Globetrotter legend Meadowlark Lemon.