BOX OF POINTS
OAKLAND – The four-game series is dead, buried under a beautiful 3-point shot and timely defense.
The Warriors scored their first win in 10 days on Friday night, a 125-97 rout of the Portland Trail Blazers before a crowded crowd (19,596) at the Oracle Arena.
Kevin Durant had 32 points in 13 of 21 shots and Klay Thompson had 31 in 12 of 21. It was the most efficient combined effort since Stephen Curry left the lineup on November 8.
Here are three game topics:
Credite the return of the real defense
The lack of most of its recent slip was the least publicized element of the ascent of the ashes franchise: defense. It had been inconsistent, if not completely absent.
Not so tonight, particularly in the second quarter.
Trailing by five (29-24) with 11:22 remaining in the middle, the Warriors boosted the defense and paid off with a 22-3 run, resulting in a 46-32 lead with 5:40 left in the middle. During this stretch, they blocked three shots and forced three turnovers, while holding Portland for a shot from one to nine on the field.
The Blazers soared 30 percent for the quarter, during which the Warriors surpassed 35-17. That changed the whole look of the game.
In addition, this six-minute stretch reminded the Warriors of the galvanizing effects of high-intensity defense.
The night of the triples
The Warriors were fighting powerfully with 3-point shots. His last four games were illustrations of futility: 22.2%, 27.3%, 19.2% and 24.1%. Spacing was poor, resulting in many contested shots.
They shot 53.1% (17 of 32) from outside the arc, their third highest percentage this season. This was the fifth time they pitched at least 50 percent deep and the first time since Nov. 5 against Memphis.
Six different players made triples, with Quinn Cook's 5-for-6 shot leading the way. Thompson was 4-for-9, Durant 2-for-5, Andre Iguodala 2-of-2, Jonas Jerebko 2-for-4 and Damion Lee 2-for-4.
The 17 3-pointers represent the Warriors' second-highest total of the season, behind only the Oct. 29 game in Chicago when they put 24 triples, led by 14 Thompson records.
Bell dusted, earn minutes
Jordan Bell came into the game having played a full 10 minutes in the last three games, producing five points and two rebounds.
He did better than that in an eight-minute slice of the second quarter, during which he showed his most comprehensive performance in two weeks: three points, three rebounds, three assists and a steal.
Showing energy at both ends, Bell was active in painting and contributed significantly to perverse defense during that quarter. He finished with five points, four rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one block. He was over 26 in 21 minutes.
Despite the shorthanded state of the team, it was a belated reflection. If he contributes as he did in this game, he will return in rotation.