Portland gets lucky at the right time in fourth to beat San Antonio again, 100-92
Facing a Spurs team without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Antonio McDyess, the Blazers allow the Spurs to hang around all the way till the end and win in San Antonio 100-92. The Blazers are the only team in the NBA to win the season series over the Spurs, hand them their fourth straight loss (their longest losing streak this season), and maintain their playoff standings. A so-so first half from Portland followed by a horrific third quarter, Portland clamp down on defensive late into the fourth, force San Antonio to tough shots, rebound at the right time, and two threes by Nic Batum and Gerald Wallace seal in a Blazers win.
Richard Jefferson, Matt Bonner, Tiago Splitter, George Hill and James Anderson are the starters. Sounds like an easy time to swoop down and take full advantage but the Spurs held around. They started off slow, as LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Miller and Wesley Matthews got to work early while the Spurs looked lost and confused on defensive. The only starter doing some damage was Hill, who by the way dropped 30 points last night in Memphis, as he was cutting through the defensive like a warm knife through butter. Wallace on the other end, who by the way dropped 40 points last night in Oklahoma City, plugged along with energy and had 8 early points. Poor Blazer defensive, despite the Blazers shooting nearly 60% from the field, allowed the Spurs to the following field goals: lay up, lay up, free throw, free throw and a dunk. The Spurs shoot pretty high as well but Portland win the first quarter 28-22.
No matter how much Portland wanted to grow their small lead, San Antonio would follow right back and stay within shouting distance. The Blazers big men stood around and watched Splitter walk through the paint and continuously allow him to the foul line for the AND1. The Blazers do however shoot better from beyond the arc then they did last night, Wallace, Patty Mills, Rudy Fernandez and Brandon Roy dropping bombs. Miller was perfect so far from the field 5-5 and leading the Blazers in scoring with 12. Following Hill’s lead, Brandy Quinn comes from nowhere to beat the Blazers to the paint and make easy open lay ups. Hill was the only Spur in double figures with 17 points at the half, no other Spur with more than 7 points. Portland head into the locker room up 58-51 still both clubs shooting around 55% from the floor.
Let’s forget this quarter shall we? Portland come out ice-cold and outworked by a new energized Spurs team and only manage 9 points in this period. Over seven turnovers, three from Brandon Roy, give the Spurs a 9-2 run which grows to a three-headed monster of a 12-4 Spur run, while Portland still shoots 52%. San Antonio lead for the first time in the entire game and head into the fourth up 72-67.
If Portland wanted to get anything going they had to shut down on defensive. A Fernandez three cuts the lead to five but Gary Neal answers right back with a three of his own and push the Spurs to their largest lead of eight. The only Blazer still concerned was Miller who despite playing with four fouls, finds himself open under the basket and attacking the rim for lay ups and free throws. Batum connects from three to cut lead to two midway through the quarter, and Miller ties the game at 81. The Spurs start chucking up threes they can’t connect on, and daggers from distance by Batum and Wallace give Portland back the lead 87-81 in the whining minutes. The Blazers close out the quarter on a 15-1 run and San Antonio start playing the fouling game and let Portland grow their lead to win 100-92.
WHO WAS HOT
Thank you Andre Miller for not giving up when at times the game looked bleak. He steps up for 26 Pts and 9-15 shooting and couple of key free throws late in the ball game. Gerald Wallace who would’ve looked worn out and tired was still productive as ever, 14 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl and a huge three to put the game out of reach for the Spurs. Wesley Matthews finally got out of his little slump and finishes with 19 Pts and 5 Reb. Nic Batum had 10 Pts and grabbed 13 Reb. Brandon Roy looked better than yesterday scoring 11 Pts, 4 Ast and 1 Stl. Portland as a whole shoot 52% from the field and shoot 47% (8-17) from distance. The free throw was not attractive early on but improved in the second half, shooting 77% (24-31) from the line.
If it wasn’t Duncan/Parker/Ginobili leading the scoring, George Hill was going to step up for sure. After 30 Pts last night, he collects 27 Pts and 6 Ast. Tiago Splitter took advantage of LaMarcus Aldridge tonight scoring all his 14 Pts and 9 Reb in the paint. Speaking of which, the Spurs get 48 points in the paint as a team on 23 fast break but shoot just 48% from the field.
WHO WAS NOT
Sad to see LaMarcus Aldridge have a tough game simply because we haven’t seen it in such a long time. Just 9 Pts on 4-10 shooting. The Blazers had a terrible time holding onto the ball giving it up 15 times, 3 by Aldridge and Miller and 5 times by Roy, all mainly in the third. Portland collect just five fast break points.
San Antonio who are usually one of the best teams behind the three-point line had one of their worst games, and what was incredible was most of those attempts were completely wide open. Only 6-25 threes and their downtown specialists sure stunk. Richard Jefferson 1-3, Matt Bonner 0-2, George Hill 0-2, James Anderson 1-3, Chris Quinn 0-2, Steve Novak 1-4 and Gary Neal 1-8. Jefferson finishes with 7 Pts and was a non-factor. Quinn and Neal lead the bench with 8 Pts each.
Knock on wood: if the unfortunate happens where Portland ends up the eighth seed out West, it sure looks better now than if we faced the Lakers. Being able to prove that we can beat the Spurs anywhere and win the season series 3-1 says a lot as the season starts coming to a close. Portland will head to another playoff contender in New Orleans to take on the 7th place Hornets on Wednesday.
photo courtesy of nba.com/blazers