Warriors' Curry gets best of Blazers' Lillard in rematch

Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry sent his brother Seth a congratulatory text Friday night after the Duke University standout lit up the scoreboard in an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 victory over Michigan State.
So was older brother expecting a similar cross-country message after a brilliant, 39-point explosion against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night?
"Nah," the Golden State Warriors star assured. "He has all kinds of telephone restrictions by Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski)."
The standing ovation from an Oracle Arena sellout crowd midway through the fourth quarter will have to suffice, after Curry's work was complete in a game matching teams headed in opposite directions in the NBA playoff race that ended 125-98 in Warriors victory.
"This was a big win for us considering what happened in the last game," Curry said, referring to the Warriors' 105-98 home loss to Sacramento on Wednesday. "We had our letdown against Sacramento. We tried not to let that happen again."
Winning for the third time in four games on their current homestand, the Warriors (42-32) remained 1 1/2 games ahead of the Houston Rockets (40-33) in the battle for the No. 6 playoff position in the Western Conference.
The Trail Blazers (33-40), meanwhile, coming off a deflating 105-95 home loss to Utah on Friday, fell 4 1/2 games out of the final postseason spot in the West with their fourth consecutive defeat. Portland has only nine games remaining.
Curry, going head-to-head with Damian Lillard for the first time since the rookie lit him up for 37 points in an Oakland homecoming in January, added to his NBA lead in 3-pointers by making seven in 12 attempts while outscoring Lillard, 39-16.
Even so, there was no doubt in his mind who earned sibbling bragging rights over the past two days.
"His night was more important. There was a lot of pressure," he said of the win-or-go-home element of the NCAA Tournament. "We respect each other and support each other."
That could be said of the elder Curry's teammates as well. Even more dominant than he was the Golden State bench, which outscored its Portland counterparts 22-0 in the first half and had 29-10 and 12-4 advantages in points and rebounds, respectively, through three quarters before mostly reserves mopped up a blowout in the fourth quarter.
Carl Landry led the Warriors' bench with 25 points, hitting 9 of 10 shots from the field. He completed a double-double with a team-high 10 rebounds.
"He was great," Warriors coach Mark Jackson gushed of Landry. "He gave us a scoring punch, he rebounded, he defended, he battled and he played with great force. When he plays like that, we are a different team."
Meyers Leonard, starting in the Trail Blazers' front line because LaMarcus Aldridge stayed home with a sprained ankle, had 22 points and 10 rebounds for Portland, which lost for the 13th time in its last 15 trips to Oakland. JJ Hickson also had a double-double for the Trail Blazers with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Lillard, an Oakland High product, made just 4 of 11 shots from the field en route to his 16 points. He added eight assists. Backcourt mate Wesley Matthews scored 18 points.
"When we don't have (Aldridge) out there, I guess teams are valuing me with the ball more," Lillard said. "That makes it more difficult."
Coming off the disappointing loss to Sacramento, the Warriors left no doubt against the third sub-.500 opponent in the last four games, nearly doubling a 10-point halftime advantage by the end of the third quarter en route to a 96-78 advantage.
Curry had three baskets, including a 3-pointer, and three of his six assists in the third-quarter runaway for the Warriors, who get yet another chance to take advantage of a friendly season-ending schedule with three days off before closing a five-game homestand Wednesday against another lottery-bound club, New Orleans.
"It's amazing the clinic he is putting on. It's absolutely amazing," Jackson said of Curry. "You see the shots go up and you are shocked when they miss. We are witnessing one of the greatest shooters that has ever played this game."
If there was a bright spot for the Trail Blazers, it was the play of Leonard.
"It's doing a lot for my confidence right now," the 7-foot-1 rookie from Illinois said of his increased minutes. He logged 41 Saturday. "It makes me feel better about my progression as a player."
NOTES: The 42nd victory assured the Warriors of their first winning season since 2007-08, when they went 48-34. ... The 27-point margin of victory was the Warriors' third largest over the Trail Blazers in their long history. ... Aldridge, who missed Friday's critical home loss to Utah, did not make the trip to Oakland as he remained sidelined by a sprained right ankle. He has yet to be ruled out of the team's next game Monday at Utah. ... Curry's second 3-pointer pushed him past Tim Hardaway (602) for second place on the franchise's career list. Curry (608-for-1,362) has attempted 335 fewer 3-pointers than Hardaway (1,697). ... Lillard made two of his three 3-point attempts and thus tied Curry's single-season NBA record for 3-pointers as a rookie with 166. ... Leonard's double-double was his first of the season. ... If Portland starts focusing on its lottery position in the final 2 1/2 weeks of the regular season, it's understandable. The Trail Blazers will lose their first-round pick to Charlotte as part of the Gerald Wallace trade if the selection falls outside the top 12. Portland currently has the 12th-worst record in the league.

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