OAKLAND, Calif. â€” JaVale McGee has made a name for himself catching lob passes and reliably slamming them home to the pure delight of his teammates, and oh did those matter for the short-handed Golden State Warriors as they moved one win closer to another NBA championship.
The typically spot-on Splash Brothers weren’t hitting consistently. Kevin Durant wasn’t on the court at all, nor Shaun Livingston.
McGee shined on a night none of the usual stars found their steady shooting strokes and sparked Golden State off the bench with 15 points, and the Warriors beat the Portland Trail Blazers 110-81 in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series Wednesday night as Durant sat out injured.
“That’s my whole thing, I just try to be efficient out there,” McGee said.
The backup big man made all seven of his field-goal attempts and delivered several more of his signature alley-oop dunks as Durant watched with a strained left calf he hurt in the playoff opener Sunday.
“Sometimes we get caught up in looking for him too much when he’s not open because we feel he can do something spectacular above the rim,” Stephen Curry said.
Draymond Green put together another fantastic all-around game, getting 12 rebounds, 10 assists, six points and three more blocked shots after swatting five in Sunday’s win.
Curry went 6 for 18 for 19 points and also had six assists and six rebounds. Klay Thompson was 6 of 17 with 16 points and CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard were hardly were the dynamic scoring duo for Portland they’d been combining for 75 points only three days earlier.
Again, Golden State did it on defenceâ€” holding the Blazers to 12 points in the third.
“Our offence got scattered, we were rushing everything. We were just not poised offensively and that put our defence in a bad position,” coach Steve Kerr said. “I thought in the third quarter we settled our offence down which helped our defence.”
And now the Warriors own a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series as it shifts to Portland for Saturday’s Game 3, just as Kerr’s group did going ahead on the Blazers in last year’s Western Conference semifinal won in five games.
“We’ve got to have this one,” Lillard said.
Maurice Harkless scored all of his 15 points in the first half and the Blazers gave up seven straight points to start the third as the Warriors were off and running. Portland played again without centre Jusuf Nurkic, and missed him. The 7-footer still isn’t 100 per cent from a nondisplaced fracture in his right leg that sidelined him for the final seven regular-season games.
McCollum, who shot 16 for 28 to score 41 in the 121-109 Game 1 loss, scored 11 points on 4-for-17 shooting. Lillard was 5 for 17 and held to 12 points.
“Coming in the first two games we just wanted to take one,” Lillard said. “We didn’t do that.”
Coach Terry Stotts called on his team to be more balanced to have a chance against top-seeded Golden State, which finished with the NBA’s best record for a third straight season.
Instead, the Warriors once more showed their remarkable balance despite Livingston being sidelined after he also got hurt in Sunday’s win.
Ian Clark scored 13 points, Andre Iguodala contributed 10 rebounds, six assists and six points, and Zaza Pachulia scored 10 points. McGee did his thing with three alley-oops in the first and two on consecutive possessions late in the period.
Trail Blazers: The Blazers’ third-quarter scoring output was their lowest in any period this season â€” and tied for the fewest in a quarter by a Warriors playoff opponent in the shot clock era. … Portland shot 7 for 34 on 3s and 30 for 90 overall. … The Blazers have lost 11 out of the last 12 to the Warriors and 11 straight at Oracle Arena.
Warriors: Thompson matched Hall of Famer Rick Barry for second place on the franchise list for post-season games played with 66. … Livingston sat out with a sprained right index finger and bruised hand, while F Matt Barnes didn’t play as he is still working back from a sprained right ankle and foot. … Rookie Patrick McCaw earned his first playoff start in place of Durant and had nine points and five rebounds. … Curry joined Barry as the only Warriors with 100 steals in the playoffs.
Kerr hopes to have a healthy lineup for Game 3, though might choose to hold out Durant again given the series lead.
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Janie McCauley, The Associated Press