OAKLAND, Calif. — Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard believed there was contact before Andre Iguodala‘s strip that sealed the Golden State Warriors‘ 114-111 win in Thursday night’s Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, but he didn’t blame the referees for not blowing the whistle.
After the Warriors fouled with 10 seconds remaining, Lillard isolated against Iguodala on the left wing, attempting to create space to shoot a 3-pointer that would have tied the score.
However, Iguodala swiped the ball away with his right hand as Lillard went into his shooting motion, ensuring that Portland headed home down 2-0.
“I know it’s a tough position for the referees to be in to make a call at that point in the game,” said Lillard, who finished with 23 points but didn’t score in the final 7 minutes, 42 seconds. “Tried to get a little bit of space the first time. He grabbed my arm, and I lost the ball a little bit. I regained it, and I was going to shoot it again. He got his hand on the ball.
“For me, as the offensive player, I felt like it was contact. There was a lot of contact. But obviously, the ref is not going to decide the game or jump in at that point. You know, so … good defensive play.”
The play put the finishing touches on an ugly display of crunch-time offense by Portland, which led by 15 points at halftime and eight points after backup center Meyers Leonard made a 3 off a Lillard feed with 4:28 remaining.
The Trail Blazers missed eight of their final nine shots, the lone exception a 3 by Seth Curry that put Portland up by a point with 1:03 remaining. CJ McCollum, the star of the Blazers’ Game 7 win over the Denver Nuggets in the West semifinals, missed all five of his field goal attempts down the stretch.
“We got some good looks,” said McCollum, who had 22 points on 9-of-23 shooting. “I personally had some good looks. I had an open 3 I missed, and I had a floater I missed late. I had a switch with Draymond [Green]; I missed a 3-pointer. I think it’s just a make-or-miss league. They played good defense, but I can live with the shots I missed every day of the week.”
Green was a dominant force on both ends of the floor during Golden State’s rally to close the game despite having five fouls.
He accounted for all five of the Warriors’ baskets after the Blazers went up by eight, getting two layups and dishing to teammates for a pair of dunks and a layup. That included an alley-oop to Kevon Looney immediately after Portland took its last lead and a layup on the Warriors’ next possession. Green also had two rebounds and blocked one of McCollum’s shots in the final four minutes.
“We’ve been here before,” said Green, who had 16 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 blocks in the win. “And when you are on a run like we are currently in, you’ve seen everything. And so we’re down eight points with, what, four minutes to go or whatever it was. Just got to keep going, because we know we can erase eight points in a minute. So, always understanding that and having confidence in that is key, but at the same time, understanding what it takes and what needs to be done in order to do that is just as important, if not more important.
“So I think our experience really paid off tonight and just having a bunch of guys that’s never going to quit.”