In a Nutshell
The Blazers showed about three minutes of beautiful basketball, setting each other up for a 7-2 lead, before settling into an offensive constipation from which they'd never recover. The Spurs settle in somewhere south of amazing in the game but get the job done with room to spare.
As with the last game, this game's story is pretty easy. Portland came out looking confident and poised. For the first couple minutes of the game you could really believe that they had bought into the team offense, looking for each other off of penetration and calmly sinking open looks and layups. Then the Spurs put the pressure on and Portland folded offensively. The three Portland "big" men--Marcus Camby, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Wesley Matthews--managed a little bit of motion and thus a little bit of traction. (San Antonio's frontcourt is not what it once was defensively, so take it for what it's worth.) Neither Brandon Roy nor Andre Miller nor anyone off the bench found a rhythm, resulting in a cascade of forced shots. As soon as large chunks of the lineup started missing San Antonio's defensive job became easier. All they had to do was stay in front of the man with the ball (usually accomplished easily), rebound (somewhat more difficult as the Blazers pounded the offensive glass), and run. Portland's defense generally held up well on everything but the baldest of breaks, but the Blazers felt far more pressure than they dealt. At no point was the game in hand for Portland. It was a case of "throw up a shot, hope it goes in, scramble back when it doesn't". The Spurs maintained a comfortable 10-12 point lead most of the game, extending in the fourth until the Blazers cried uncle. 95-78 San Antonio in a frustrating-looking effort for Portland.
The idea of continuity was there in this game. You could see a shadow of what the Blazers' offense is supposed to look like. The problem was that the Spurs knew what was going on as well as the Blazers did. They were easily able to take Portland out of their element. As has been true for years, as soon as Portland gets pushed out of their comfort zone they have a hard time generating any offense. Plan A is decent. Plan B is a gamble. Plan C is a disaster. Portland sat somewhere between B and C today.
Brandon Roy followed up his Phoenix masterpiece with a San Antonio stink session. He went 4-16, 1-4 from the arc, and drew NO foul shots. Only his 6 assists prevented the day from being a total disaster.
LaMarcus Aldridge was one of the few Blazers connecting leather with twine today. He hit 8-14 for 16 points. That included NO foul shots. (Can you sense a pattern?) 7 rebounds added some spice.
Marcus Camby went 5-7, largely because the Spurs were too slow to cover him on the perimeter or off the dribble. He had 13 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 blocks. Tim Duncan had 13 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks so it was a wash.
Andre Miller had 7 assists but shot 2-8 from the field. He led Portland with 3 foul shots made (better than NO foul shots, but not by much). He ended with 7 points.
Wes Money had 17 points on 7-16 shooting and 2-3 made threes, the only perimeter player with a decent percentage today. He makes it easy for teammates to find him. The Spurs didn't care too much as long as everyone else stayed down.
Joel Przybilla had 6 rebounds in 15 minutes, just about the only bench performance worth a mention. Seriously, you don't want to know about the rest of these guys. The Blazer bench scored 18 points combined. San Antonio's scored 42.
Oh...except Armon Johnson played 4 minutes and attempted 8 shots. Part of that was from quick offensive rebounds but still...good thing it was garbage time.
Stats of the Night
- Blazers shoot 37.9%, 33.3% from three-point distance.
- Blazers shoot 11 free throws. Forget about complaining because it was all about the offense. Besides the Blazers missed 4 of those 11 anyway.
- Blazers 20 offensive rebounds but San Antonio got 15, eating into the advantage. The Spurs shot better too, making those 15 worse.
Odd Notes and Links
See what it feels like to be 20-3
and undefeated at home at .Pounding the Rock. (See what it feels like to be in the Blazers offense at Pounding Your Head on the Desk.)