PORTLAND – With Kevin Durant out, Draymond Green has taken it upon himself to boost Golden State.
And boy, has he.
Green had 20 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, and the Warriors beat the Portland Trail Blazers 110-99 on Saturday night for a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.
Green had his seventh career postseason triple-double and Stephen Curry scored 36 points for Golden State, which moved a win away from a fifth straight trip to the NBA finals with Game 4 set for Monday.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said it was one of the best games he’s seen Green play.
“I don’t even know what to say about Draymond,” Kerr said. “He was a wrecking ball, destroying everything in his path.”
Durant, the two-time NBA Finals MVP who was averaging more than 34 points during the playoffs, remains out with a sore right calf and his return is uncertain.
“When Kevin is not on the floor, I know I have to be more aggressive. So whether that’s attacking the basket, putting more pressure on the defense, I understand that,” said Green, who has had a triple double in each of the rounds during the playoffs – all on the road.
CJ McCollum had 23 points for the Trail Blazers, who led by 18 during the second quarter. Damian Lillard added 19 points, but Portland was hurt at the line, making just 20 of 33 attempts.
Golden State’s Andre Iguodala left in the third quarter with a sore lower leg. Kerr said he will have an MRI on Sunday. Iguodala played 17 minutes and had nine points.
After trailing 66-53 at the half, the Warriors mounted a third-quarter comeback to lead 82-79 going into the fourth. Jonas Jerebko’s jumper pushed the lead to 90-82 with 7:26 left.
Curry’s 3-pointer made it 98-87 with just under five minutes to go, and Portland struggled to catch up – similar to their fourth-quarter fade in Game 2.
Game 3 was the first conference finals game in Portland since 2000. The Blazers lost that series to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in seven games.
No team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit to win in the playoffs. Only three series have gone to a seventh game after one team opened with a 3-0 lead.
“We’re going to give it our best effort on Monday. That’s all that matters,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “We’re going to give it our best effort and whatever happen, happens.”
On Thursday, the Blazers were up 15 at halftime and led by eight with 4 1/2 minutes left before the Warriors rallied – boosted by Kevon Looney’s dunk with less than a minute left, and a game-sealing steal from Iguodala – for a 114-111 Game 2 victory.
Both teams switched up their lineups for Game 3, with Portland’s Meyers Leonard making his first start of the playoffs at center. Enes Kanter, despite sustaining a separated shoulder in the first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, started in all the previous games. Leonard provided a spark and finished with a career playoff-high 16 points.
Kerr started Damian Jones, who hadn’t started since December and had made just two previous appearances in the playoffs. Jones, who played in just 24 games in the regular season because of a torn pectoral muscle, collected three fouls in the game’s opening three minutes and headed to the bench.
Portland was boosted by the home crowd at the start, going up by 10 points in the first quarter. Seth Curry’s jumper made it 60-42 with 2:28 left until halftime.
The Warriors roared back, closing within 76-75 on Alfonzo McKinnie’s basket and pulling ahead on Looney’s layup to cap a 10-0 run. Golden State outscored the Blazers 22-6 to close out the third quarter.
Warriors: Jones was making his first career postseason start. … The Warriors have used six different starting lineups in the 2019 playoffs. Jerebko was handed a flagrant I for a foul on Zach Collins in the second quarter.
Trail Blazers: Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was among the fans at the game. Also there was Sabrina Ionescu, who was on the Oregon team that went to the Final Four this season, and former Blazer Scottie Pippen (1999-2003).
Lillard, who hasn’t had the commanding performances he had earlier in the playoffs, was asked if exhaustion was taking a toll. Later, reports emerged that he may have injured a rib in Game 2, although the Blazers did not immediately comment.
“Everybody’s tired,” he said. “It’s the third round of the playoffs after a long season. Our last series, I got a lot of attention. The team was giving me a lot of attention and the same thing in this series. It takes a lot to deal with that and go out and chase guys around on the defensive end.”
Game 4 is set for Monday night in Portland.
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