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Matthews' stamina vs. Warriors' strategy

Portland guard's defense cools Stephen Curry just enough to help Blazers prevail against Warriors


For most of Sunday night, Stephen Curry got where he wanted, when he wanted against the Trail Blazers.

The Golden State guard scored 47 points, the second-highest point total of his career, hitting 7 of 14 3-pointers and making mincemeat out of Portland's pick-and-roll defense.

“He had a great one," Blazers guard Damian Lillard said. "He’s a great shooter, great playmaker, greater ball handler. Once a guy like that gets going, it’s tough to stop, especially after they’re setting screen after screen for him. All it takes is a little bit of space.”

Blazers guard Wesley Matthews, however, played Curry tough enough in the third quarter and at the end of regulation and overtime to help the Blazers stave off the Warriors 119-117 and secure a matchup with the Houston Rockets in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

“Wes Matthews did a terrific job," Portland coach Terry Stotts said after a win that clinched no worse than the No. 5 spot in the NBA Western Conference for the Blazers. "I thought he made him (Curry) work for it. (Curry) hit some really tough shots throughout the game.”

In the first half, Lillard guarded Curry most of the time. But after the fourth-year guard out of Davidson lit up Lillard for 21 points, Stotts opted to assign Matthews to the job.

“Even though I wasn’t matched up with him much (in the first half), I still took it personal," Matthews says, "and the times I was matched up with him, he scored, and it got to me.”

Matthews harassed Curry in the third quarter, holding him to just six points.

“I thought our defense in the third quarter was pretty good on him,” Stotts said.

But in the fourth quarter, Curry got hot, watching one 3 go through the net while falling down, toying Blazers center Robin Lopez by showing him the ball toward the sideline while driving to the paint and then reversing his motion to the hoop, creating an easy hook shot.

While Matthews was on the bench in the final period, Curry scored 16 points on 5-for-6 field-goal shooting. But when Matthews was on the court, Curry went just 2 of 5 and scored four points.

Then, in overtime, Matthews held Curry to three points on 1-for-4 shooting.

“It was exhausting," Matthews said, "but my teammates did a great job with me. You can never guard a guy like that one-on-one.”

Still, Matthews grew tired of Golden State’s strategy of incessant pick-and-rolls for Curry.

“Stop calling for pick-and-rolls. Play me one-on-one,” Mathews recalled telling Curry in the fourth quarter.

But Matthews knows Curry very well, and the trash talk between the two was just good-natured competitiveness.

“Me and Steph, we go way back," he said. "We have the same agent. We’re friends. We are competitors. We’ve done that plenty of times.”

At the other end, Matthews scored 24 points, hitting four clutch free throws at the end of regulation and scoring six points in overtime to help seal the Blazers' victory.

Matthews' penchant for hitting monumental baskets on one end and hounding Curry at the other end left Stotts impressed.

“The stamina that it took to work as hard as he did on Steph and then make the plays that he did on the offensive end, that was big time,” Stotts said.

Matthews said it was all in a day's work.

“That’s what we get paid to do," he said. "I love this game. That’s what gets me going.”