Officially, Golden State's Andre Iguodala came up with a block on Portland's Damian Lillard with 4 seconds left in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals. To Lillard, the Warriors played good defense at a clutch moment to secure a 2-0 lead in the series, but the Blazers' star said there was contact on that play, too.
The Blazers led 111-110 with 1 minute, 3 seconds to play after Seth Curry nailed a 29-foot 3-pointer. From there, the Warriors regained the lead on a Kevon Looney alley-oop with 52 seconds left and extended the lead to 114-111 with 12 seconds left off a Draymond Green layup. That set up the final shot for the Blazers as the team put the ball in Lillard's hands.
He isolated on Iguodala on the left wing to set up a 3-pointer, but Iguodala swiped the ball away with his right hand as Lillard went into his shooting motion. Iguodala snatched the ball and passed ahead to Stephen Curry, who dribbled once and launched a shot from beyond half court that missed as Golden State prevailed, 114-111.
Per Dwight James of NBC Sports Northwest, Lillard maintained that he was fouled on the final play. But, Lillard also made it clear he knew that he would not be bailed out by a call at that point in the game, too.
“You know, I got the ball,” Lillard said. “I think they knew we needed a three. I think it was under 10 seconds by the time I got a catch, and a quick two -- we didn’t have any timeouts left. I don’t think that would have done much for us.
“We knew we were going to go for the three, so I was just trying to get space to get a three up. I know it’s a tough position for the referees to be in to make a call at that point of the game. I tried to get a little bit of space the first time and he grabbed my arm and I lost the ball a little bit. I regained it and I was going to shoot it again.
“But he got his hand on the ball. For me, as the offensive player, I felt like it was contact. There was a lot of contact. But obviously, the ref is not going to decide the game or jump in at that point. You know, so they – good defensive play.”
Iguodala said he was taking a calculated risk with the game on the line.
“Well, you look at the time and situation, up three, so the one thing that you don’t want to do is give up a three," Iguodala said, per NBC Sports Northwest. "You actually can take risks outside the three-point line and be extra aggressive. The key is not to give that up. If the guy drives by you, then you still have the lead. When you look at it that way, it wasn’t that good of a play.
“I just take odds on what you want to do and if the odds are in your favor, then for something like that to happen outside the three-point line.”
CJ McCollum scored 22 points for Portland and Damian Lillard overcame a slow start to add 23 points and 10 assists as the Blazers looked far more in sync than in a 116-94 defeat two days earlier. Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is Saturday night at Portland.
"We did play a much better game at both ends of the floor tonight. We've got to take that into Game 3," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "It is a lost opportunity, no question. We had a chance to get one here on the road."
The Blazers had built a 65-50 halftime lead, capitalizing on 10 Warriors turnovers for 18 points. But Portland was brutal down the stretch, missing eight of their final nine shots over the final four-plus minutes of Game 2. Green, in particular, was troublesome for Portland late in Game 2. He had three critical assists in those final four minutes en route to finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and five blocks despite being in foul trouble.
"We've been here before," Green said. "When you're on a run like we're currently in, you've seen everything. Down eight points with what, four minutes to go, or whatever it was, just got to keep going, because we know we can erase eight points."
Portland showed it made adjustments from Game 1 and brought it on both ends from the opening tip after the Blazers had regularly left Stephen Curry wide open on the perimeter off the pick-and-roll and he scored 36 points while matching his postseason high with nine 3-pointers.
"We've got to bring that same energy at home," McCollum said, "understand that this is the first time in 19 years we've been in the conference final."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.