(The Sports Xchange) - The Golden State Warriors play so well after they lose, it makes one wonder why they don’t do it more often.
Actually, that is exactly why they don’t lose more often.
The Warriors remained unbeaten in games following defeats Sunday, riding Stephen Curry’s game-high 39 points to a 136-111 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Playing for the first time since having their 54-game, home-court winning streak ended by the Boston Celtics on Friday night, the Warriors (69-8) kept their record perfect in games following losses with an eighth straight win.
“It’s really a true test of this team’s character,” Draymond Green said of his team’s ability to bounce back from defeat. “We take a loss, kind of get frustrated, mad, and then we’ll lock back in, which you have to do now and then.”
The Warriors don’t just win their games following defeats, they tend to dominate them. Sunday’s 25-point triumph increased the average winning margin in the eight victories to 15 points.
No team has ever finished a season without at least one set of consecutive losses.
“We take pride in not having lost two in a row,” Curry said. “It hurt to lose last game and see that streak end, so we wanted to come back and take advantage of the opportunity we had tonight.”
The win shrunk the Warriors’ magic number for clinching the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs to two. They moved 4 1/2 games ahead of the idle San Antonio Spurs (64-12).
Curry connected on nine of the Warriors’ 18 3-pointers as the club ran its season total to 1,013. Golden State became the first NBA team to go over 1,000 in a single season.
Curry, who made 13 of 21 shots in all, nine of 13 3-point attempts and found time for six rebounds and seven assists, had his hands full in an entertaining point guard showdown with Portland’s Damian Lillard, who poured in 38 points.
“It was quite a show,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who could afford to enjoy it because his team led for the final 26 minutes of the game. “Both guys had it going.”
Lillard, an Oakland native who had a 51-point explosion against the Warriors earlier this season, connected on 13 of 27 shots and four of nine 3-point attempts.
Curry had the better supporting case on this night, however. Green recorded a 22-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist triple-double, and Klay Thompson buried two 3-pointers on a 21-point night.
“Great team effort,” Kerr said of a game in which his club shot 56.8 percent from the field and even better from beyond the 3-point arc (18 of 30, 60 percent). “I really liked our focus and really how sharp we were.”
Green’s rebound and assist totals were game highs. The triple-double was his 13th of the season.
CJ McCollum had 18 points and Moe Harkless recorded a double-double with 15 points and a team-high 10 rebounds for the Trail Blazers (41-37). Portland concluded a 4-0 homestand win a 110-93 win over the Miami Heat on Saturday night.
“We were competitive for two, almost three quarters,” said Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, whose team’s previous trip to Oakland was a never-close, 128-112 blowout loss. “It’s hard to look at the score and feel (like we played better), but we certainly played better than last time.”
The Portland loss helped tighten the five-team battle for the final four playoff spots in the West. The Memphis Grizzlies (41-36), who lost Sunday to Orlando, remain a half-game ahead of the Trail Blazers, with the next three teams — the Dallas Mavericks (39-38), Utah Jazz (39-38) and Houston Rockets (38-39) — all gaining ground following wins.
“It’s nothing for us to be ashamed of,” Lillard said of the loss. “I thought we played a really good game. I don’t think the score said the way the game went.”
Hitting 10 of its first 13 shots, Portland led by as many as 11 points in the first quarter before Golden State got the better of the middle two periods by a 70-52 count to pull away.
Curry drilled three 3-pointers in a 49-second flurry midway through the third quarter, extending the Warriors’ lead to 85-73.
He added a fourth 3-pointer late in the period as Golden State increased the margin as high as 14 before having relatively smooth sailing the rest of the way.