SAN FRANCISCO — The Portland Trail Blazers’ season of great expectations is off to an underwhelming start.
The Blazers suffered a hard-to-stomach 127-118 loss to what’s left of the Golden State Warriors Monday night at Chase Center, losing for the second consecutive time and fifth time in the opening nine games.
It was, quite simply, an uninspiring performance against an unrecognizable team, as the Blazers fell to an injury-riddled group playing without seven players, including All-Stars Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and D’Angelo Russell.
The Blazers’ offense was absent, aside from prolific performances from Damian Lillard and Hassan Whiteside, and their defense was even worse against a bunch of players the casual NBA fan hasn’t even heard of.
Eric Paschall finished with a career-high 36 points and 13 rebounds, torching the Blazers with a barrage of three-pointers (four) and timely dunks. When he scooped up a ball in the lane and hammered home a rebound dunk with 1:39 left, it gave the Warriors a 117-105 cushion that was more than enough to put away the Blazers. Paschall made 11 of 19 field goals, including 4 of 6 threes.
Ky Bowman recorded 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists and Damion Lee added 16 points on 4-for-8 shooting, making multiple clutch free throws down the stretch to ice the win for the Warriors (2-6), who won their first game at the flashy new Chase Center.
Lillard carried the Blazers (4-5) most of the night, finishing with 39 points and four assists, Whiteside recorded 22 points and 11 rebounds and Anfernee Simons added 14 points off the bench. But it wasn’t enough on a night the rest of the team hoisted bricks and the defense was a no-show.
WHITESIDE RETURNS, EASES CONCERNS EARLY
Whiteside eased concerns about his balky left knee early Monday, carrying the Blazers during the opening stretch of a shaky first quarter.
On the game’s first possession, he earned two free throws after darting to the hoop to catch a pass from Lillard and drawing a foul. On the next Blazers’ possession, he skied to snare a Lillard missed three-pointer, completing the play with a rebound put-back. Then, one possession later, Whiteside worked into the lane and tossed up a pretty hook shot. Five possessions into the game, the score was: Warriors 6, Whiteside 5.
The Blazers’ starting center went on to play the first seven minutes, 51 seconds of the quarter, recording nine points, three rebounds and one block, while making 4 of 4 field goals, putting to rest any worries over his injury.
Whiteside missed the Blazers’ Saturday night loss to the Philadelphia 76ers after suffering a left knee bone bruise Wednesday in Oklahoma City.
The first quarter looked like a track meet, with the teams breezing up and down the court to score at will against each other. They each shot 62 percent from the field and committed just two total turnovers, as neither team provided much resistance.
Paschall took advantage of the Blazers’ leaky defense, erupting for 17 points on 6-for-7 shooting in the first quarter. The Warriors rode his hot shooting to a 34-32 edge heading in the second quarter and remained hot — they were shooting 60 percent in the closing seconds of the second quarter and 50 percent well into the fourth.
The Warriors’ unheralded players took turns punishing the Blazers’ defense as six different Golden State players reached double figures in scoring.