Beating the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors twice in three days is no easy task.
It becomes an even more difficult assignment when you're battling the referees much of the way.
The Warriors gained a measure of revenge for Portland's 110-109 overtime victory at Oracle Arena Thursday night, using their edge at the 3-point line to vanquish the Blazers 115-105 Saturday night at Moda Center.
Golden State (24-13) got big offensive nights from their three bombers, with Klay Thompson (32 points) leading the way and Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant both chipping in 25. The Warriors made 12 of 25 shots from 3-point range while the Blazers (20-16) sank 9 of 31.
"We didn't necessarily play a good game, but we kept battling," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "We made some good comebacks, but in the end, we let our guard down (defensively) a few times. When you do that, (the Warriors) take advantage of it. They made their 3's, and that's a recipe for them to win."
Stotts would not comment on the officiating. Damian Lillard had plenty to say, however, after a game in which six technical fouls and an ejection were issued by a crew that never seemed to have control of the situation.
Referees Josh Tiven, Gediminas Patraitis and Jacyn Goble whistled Warriors Durant, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala for technicals, and Iguodala — after video review — was ejected for throwing the ball deep into the stands after time had expired in the first half. The loquacious, exertive Green — who was in the referees' faces on several occasions — could easily have drawn a second T and the boot.
If the Blazers got the better of the calls through much of the game, they certainly did not toward the end. Center Jusuf Nurkic drew a technical in the third quarter, and Lillard and Stotts both were T'd up with 1:49 to go and with the game slipping away from the Blazers.
Golden State led 109-100 when chaos broke out after Lillard was called for a personal foul — his fifth — while Curry was attempting a 3-point shot.
"I'm coming over the screen," Lillard recalled afterward. "I'm trying to squeeze by (the screener). (Curry) kicks his left leg out, kicks my legs, falls on the ground — three free throws."
Lillard, exasperated because Green was not called for a foul after "reaching out and grabbing my jersey and pulling it from behind" on the Blazers' previous possession, was immediately all over Goble, who called him for a technical.
"I told (Goble), 'You gave (Curry) three free throws at this point in the game, in a crucial possession,' " Lillard said. "Then I turned and said something (to Goble). He said I called him a name, which I 100 percent did not call him.
"I tried to get him to understand, I wouldn't call him that name. Even if I did say anything like that, if I'm looking into space, I can say what I want. I'm a grown man. I wasn't looking at his face. I turned my head, I was looking at the basket, and I'm allowed to say whatever I want to say after that."
Audible foul language anywhere on the court is cause for a referee to call a technical on the offending coach or player, of course. Lillard didn't specify exactly what he said.
The technical call brought Stotts onto the court, practically begging for a T in defense of his star player, and it was finally handed to him.
When the smoke cleared, Curry had made three of five free throws to give the Warriors a 112-100 lead. At that point, Stotts waved the white flag and emptied the bench.
After the game, Lillard confronted Goble again, putting his hand on the referee's arm a couple of times while passionately pleading his cause that he didn't call Goble the "name" the referee thought he had heard.
"He said, 'Damian, I'm 100 percent sure,'" Lillard said. "I told him, 'I did not say that.' I just wanted him to know he was wrong about what I said. He also said I was looking at him, and I was not looking at him.
"(The referees) have a tough job. It's just frustrating when the same situation that we aren't getting the benefit of the doubt for is getting called on us in situations we can't afford. A (Warrior) jumped toward me and bumped me on a 3-point shot — no call. Somebody (on the Warriors) bumped into their teammate — they get free throws. Leg kick — they get free throws. (Green is) out there screaming in their ears, cussing left and right — nothing. Well, I wasn't in anybody's face."
It spoiled a sensational offensive performance by Lillard, who hit 14 of 23 shots — including 6 of 13 from 3-point range — en route to a 40-point night.
"That was prime 'Dame' right there," teammate Moe Harkless said. "He was great, but he usually is."
Lillard, whose 3-pointer from the corner had beaten the Warriors on Thursday night, said the Blazers had "dodged a few bullets" in that one.
"They didn't shoot the ball well when we had (defensive slip-ups)," Lillard said. "They just missed shots sometimes. Tonight, we had a solid game defensively. We competed. We were sharp in our game plan.
"But they're a great team. They've won three championships. They're going to make shots. Sometimes they were contested, but the ones where we allowed them to get a little bit too much space, they made them tonight."
NOTES — Portland plays the second of back-to-back games Sunday night against Philadelphia (23-13) at Moda Center. ... Iguodala told Golden State coach Steve Kerr he was just "shooting the ball" when he launched it into the stands after time expired in the first half. "It wasn't a very good shot," Kerr joked. "Went a little long." ... Portland center Jusuf Nurkic, who probably wishes he could play every game against the post-challenged Warriors, had 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in 32 minutes. In three games against them this season, Nurkic is averaging 23.3 points and 9.7 boards. ... Portland's CJ McCollum had another poor shooting night, scoring 14 points on 6-for-17 shooting, including 0 for 5 from 3-point range. Over his last 15 games, McCollum is shooting .253 from beyond the arc (19 for 79). ... The Blazers' bench had a poor offensive night, scoring a total of 14 points on 5-for-21 shooting. ... The Warriors held a 29-9 advantage in fast-break points. ... it was Lillard's fifth 40-point game of the season. He scored 20 in the third quarter.
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