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Golden State's defense shuts down Portland’s backcourt in Game 1

Golden State's defense shuts down Portland’s backcourt in Game 1
Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, left, lays up a shot past Portland Trail Blazers' Maurice Harkless during the first half of Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday in Oakland. (Ben Margot / Associated Press)

The tone was set by Stephen Curry. The rest of the Golden State Warriors simply followed their leader Tuesday night at Oracle Arena.

Curry unleashed a three-point barrage on the weary Portland Trail Blazers, dropping one long shot after another on his way to 36 points that helped carry the Warriors to a 116-94 victory before a delirious crowd of 19,596.

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He connected on nine of 15 three-pointers. He was 12 for 23 from the field. He also had seven assists and six rebounds in delivering the Warriors to a 1-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Game 2 is Thursday night.

“Steph got downhill quite a bit,” said Draymond Green, who had what has become a typical night for him with 12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three blocks. “But it’s good to see Steph have a game like that at a time that obviously we need it most. It was really big for us, and I expect him to continue to play that way.”

Curry did yeoman work through the first three quarters, cutting up the Trail Blazers for 33 points by going 11 for 21 from the field and eight for 14 from three-point range in the first 36 minutes of the game.

It was because of Curry’s output that the Warriors opened a 17-point lead in the third that the Trail Blazers never could overcome.

He had broken out of his scoring doldrums in the semifinals against the Houston Rockets in Game 6, breaking free for 33 points in the second half of that decisive contest to close out the series for the Warriors on Friday night.

His offense is needed more than ever because Kevin Durant remains out with a strained right calf.

“Again, I know what I’m capable of on the floor,” Curry said. “And, the situation calls for me to be a little bit more aggressive and hopefully that’ll continue. So, obviously it’s nice to see the ball go in.

“I didn’t shoot the ball well in 41/2 games, let’s say, in the last series. Got off to a good start tonight, so I want to maintain that.”

With Curry getting help from Klay Thompson’s 26 points, the Warriors’ dynamic backcourt outshined Portland’s starting guards, Damian Lillard and CJMcCollum.

Lilliard struggled to get clean looks because of Golden State’s aggressive and attentive defense on him. He missed eight of his 12 shots, and finished with 19 points. He also had seven turnovers.

McCollum had 17 points on seven-for-19 shooting, going one for five on three-pointers.

“They did a good job tonight defensively, and even when I was trying to find guys, they were getting deflections just because it was a crowd,” Lillard said. “They were making me play in a crowd. I thought they were successful at that in this first game.”

The Warriors also were successful at making the Trail Blazers turn the ball over 21 times for 31 points.

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Perhaps, Portland coach Terry Stotts was asked, some of those miscues were because the Trail Blazers were exhausted, having come off a taxing seven-game series that ended with a Game 7 win in Denver on Sunday?

“Having played a tough, emotional game two nights ago, that could play into it,” Stotts said. “But I don’t think anybody will use that as an excuse.”

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