SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Golden State Warriors have been working to find their defensive groove, and Draymond Green leads the charge. On Friday night, Green and his supporting cast got it done in crunch time.
Jordan Poole scored 41 points, Klay Thompson made a key 3-pointer with 1:36 left and added 31, and the Warriors held off Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers 118-112 to improve the league’s best home record to 16-2.
Green’s defense keyed a late 12-0 run after the Warriors trailed by eight with 5 minutes to play, and now the reigning champions have their first four-game winning streak all season.
“That is incredible. That is absolutely amazing,” Green said. “I think we’re just starting to fight.”
Lillard did his best to rally the Trail Blazers after halftime and finished with 34 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Poole notched his second 40-point game in the past 15 contests. His 3 with 2:57 remaining got Golden State within 110-109 but he turned the ball over the next possession before Jonathan Kuminga’s driving, two-handed slam for the lead moments later.
Ty Jerome hit a half-court buzzer-beater to end the first quarter that put Golden State ahead 41-25, much to the delight of a cheering Stephen Curry as the reigning NBA Finals MVP missed his eighth straight game with a partially dislocated left shoulder. Poole has been the Warriors’ top scorer in nine of the 10 total games missed by Curry so far.
“All four wins required an element of grit,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Our fans can feel it, our fans have been great. I think they’re really enjoying watching this team grow.”
The Blazers, who have lost four of five, began the third on a 19-9 burst to go ahead 75-69. Anfernee Simons added 22 points and seven rebounds.
Lillard and Simons were a combined 8 for 26 from long range.
Portland called timeout at the 10:25 mark of the first after the Warriors jumped out to a 9-0 lead by making their first four shots — three by Thompson.
Golden State has won the last four in the series and also four in a row at home.
Portland guard Gary Payton II, yet to play for the Trail Blazers as he recovers from surgery for a core muscle injury after signing a $28 million, three-year deal, received his championship ring from the Warriors and Green delivered it.
“I’m pretty sure it’s a validating moment to be able to first and foremost earn a championship ring,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. “He just wasn’t on the team and kind of watching from the sideline, he helped earn that ring, and he played his part. So it’s actually awesome for him, all the attention will be on him tonight.”
Golden State had cut him in the preseason then brought him back.
“We don’t win the championship without him, I know that,” Kerr said.
Trail Blazers: Big man Jusuf Nurkic sat out with an illness, the second game he has missed in the past five. … The Blazers shot 12 for 39 from deep. … Billups said Payton is “close, very close,” to making his season debut. … Portland last won on Golden State’s home floor with a 124-108 victory on March 26, 2021.
Warriors: C James Wiseman rolled his left ankle taking part in a 3-on-3 scrimmage after the morning shootaround and Kerr said “it doesn’t seem too serious.” All-Star Andrew Wiggins also took part in that scrimmage as he works back from an illness that followed his stint sidelined by tightness in his right upper leg — 13 in a row missed overall. The hope is he will play Monday after one more practice day. … F JaMychal Green is out of the league health and safety protocols but now dealing with an infection in his lower right leg.
Trail Blazers: Return home for one game to host Billups’ old Pistons team Monday night.
Warriors: Host Atlanta on Monday night.
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