Warriors clinch division title after 39-year drought

PORTLAND, Ore. — Gerald Ford was president and Rick Barry, Phil Smith and Jamaal Wilkes were the stars when the Golden State Warriors last won the NBA’s Pacific Division championship.

It’s been a long time coming for the Warriors, who clinched the team’s first division title since the 1975-76 season Tuesday night at the Moda Center with a 122-108 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

“It feels great,” first-year Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “If you haven’t done something for 39 years, you’d better celebrate it when you do.

“It’s a great moment for our franchise. It shows how far we’ve come in the last few years and all the work so many people have put in. It’s all come together, so it’s a special night for the Warriors.”

Guard Stephen Curry scored 33 points and handed out 10 assists to lead the Warriors (58-13) to their eighth straight win and 13th in 14 games. Forward Andre Iguodala equaled his season high with 21 points, forward Draymond Green had 14 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, and center Andrew Bogut contributed 10 points, 16 rebounds and six assists for the visitors.

Guard Damian Lillard collected 29 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and guard C.J. McCollum added a career-high 23 points for the Trail Blazers, who lost their fifth straight game.

Golden State shot 60.2 percent from the field overall, knocked down 12 of 26 from 3-point range and hit 10 of 11 from the free-throw line. The Warriors came out on top in rebounds (46-35), points in the paint (52-40) and fast-break points (20-6), and they recorded 37 assists on 50 baskets.

“They put on a clinic on how to share the ball,” said Portland coach Terry Stotts, whose team shot 42.4 percent from the floor.

“We’re very comfortable with how we’re going to get shots every single night,” Curry said. “Then it’s just about executing, not turning the ball over, staying aggressive and making the smart plays.”

Portland (44-25) was without four its top six players due to injury — starting forwards LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, starting guard Wesley Matthews and sixth-man center Chris Kaman. Matthews is lost for the season due to a torn Achilles tendon.

Lillard finished 9-for-21 from the field, including 6-for-11 from 3-point range, and 5-for-5 from the foul line.

“I knew I’d have to take more control of what was going on out on the floor,” Lillard said. “I tried to be more aggressive.”

The Blazers got out to a 28-20 lead, sinking 11 of 15 shots after an 0-for-5 start. They settled for a 30-26 advantage going into the second quarter.

Portland led 35-28 early in the second period, but Golden State went on a 7-0 binge to tie the score at 35-35. The Blazers seized control again, running their lead to 53-41 on a 3-pointer by Lillard with 5:15 left in the period. The Warriors closed the gap to 62-57 at the half.

Lillard had 18 first-half points and McCollum produced 10 before the break for the Blazers, who had only two turnovers and were 10-for-10 from the foul line in the half. Curry had 14 first-half points and Thompson 12 for the Warriors, who shot 56.1 percent, including 6-for-11 from 3-point range, and still trailed by five.

The Warriors went ahead 69-66 on a 3-point shot by Curry with 8:27 left in the third quarter. A no-look pass from Curry to Green for a dunk, then a Curry 3-pointer made it 80-69. The Warriors padded the advantage to 93-80 heading into the final period.

Golden State was ahead 96-80 early in the fourth quarter, but the Blazers rallied, guard Allen Crabbe’s 3-pointer drawing the home team within 100-91 with 8:01 to play. Portland never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.

“They picked it up on both ends of the floor in the second half,” Lillard said. “We competed hard. Everybody played team ball. We went out there with the right mindset — to be aggressive and accept the challenge. we tried hard, but (the Warriors) are the best team in the league for a reason.”

NOTES: The Warriors handed out Pacific Division champion T-shirts and took a team photo in the locker room after the game. “It was a good celebration relative to our accomplishment, with the idea that there’s more to come,” coach Steve Kerr said. … Golden State improved its road record to 24-11 and matched a franchise record for most road wins in a season. … The Warriors are now 14-3 in the second of-back-to-back games … Kerr almost surely will set an NBA record for most regular-season wins by a rookie coach during 82-game regular season. The mark shared by Paul Westphal (Phoenix, 1992-93) and Tom Thibodeau (Chicago, 2010-11) at 62. … Golden State sat reserves G Shaun Livingston and F David Lee. … The Blazers own a 24-8 record when F Nicolas Batum, F LaMarcus Aldridge, G Wesley Matthews, C Robin Lopez and G Damian Lillard are in the starting lineup together, 20-17 otherwise.

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