Barber: Draymond Green leads Warriors to 114-111 win over Trail Blazers
OAKLAND — Draymond Green’s fifth foul came with 7:42 left in the game.
This wasn’t fabulous news for the Warriors, who trailed the Portland Trail Blazers 99-94 at the time — a deficit that would become 100-94 a moment later when Damian Lillard hit the free throw that Green’s fifth foul awarded him. It was bad news because Green, more than any other Warrior, was spearheading a comeback in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.
The Blazers had led by as many 17 points. This game was their counterpunch. They had looked overmatched in Game 1 on Tuesday, or perhaps just exhausted after closing out a Game 7 in Denver just two days earlier. You knew the Trail Blazers would make a statement in Game 2, and they did.
And the Warriors? They did what they periodically do. They eased off the throttle.
In Game 1, Golden State had scored 17 fast-break points to Portland’s 2. In the first half of this one, it was the Trail Blazers who held a 13-2 edge in that statistic. They had more energy than the Warriors, and more aggression. The Blazers were blazing.
The tide turned in the third quarter, and it was Green who moved the waters. It was a group effort, of course.
But Green was in the eye of every little hurricane. He was the one grabbing rebounds and pushing the pace. He was the one attacking on defense, making the Trail Blazers settle for tough shots.
But he was fouling, too. He picked up No. 4 with 5:06 left in the third quarter and the Warriors down 71-70, and immediately shot Steve Kerr a look that said, “I am not coming out of this game.”
But less than a minute later, Kerr indeed pulled his point-guard-slash-power-forward-slash-assistant-coach from the floor. During that timeout, Green engaged in an animated discussion with veteran backup Shaun Livingston. My guess: He wasn’t thrilled with going to the bench, and had to vent to someone who wasn’t his boss.
“I mean, I don’t think anyone ever wants to come out when you pick up a foul that may take you out of the game,” Green said later. “Especially in a situation like this, where, you know, we’re on our home court fighting, try to go to Portland with a 2-0 lead.”
With Green leading the charge, the Warriors had mounted a 22-10 run in the third quarter. He sat out the rest of the period, and remained perched on a courtside chair when the fourth quarter began.
Green finally reentered the game with 8:04 to play, and managed to go exactly 22 seconds without fouling, until he caught a piece of Lillard’s arm near the basket. No way Kerr was going to subtract Green this time. The Warriors were already in a hole. It seemed unlikely they could make up ground without their drill sergeant.
“Just play,” Green said. “If I’m going to be out there and play timid, then I may as well go sit on the bench, you know?”
The rest is postseason history. The Warriors and Blazers went back and forth throughout a riveting, up-tempo fourth quarter and Golden State pulled out a 114-111 win. This was a game the underdog Trail Blazers desperately needed, and the Warriors had denied them.