In a Nutshell
The Blazers open up the game hitting 8 of 11 three-pointers in the first period and never look back, demolishing the Spurs*.
*Note: Artificially flavored. Contains 2% or less of actual Spurs.
Yeah, this game flowed. You kind of hand an inkling that the Blazers, stung by last night's blowout loss to the Lakers and looking forward to a long vacation, were going to come out hard and win this game. That inkling became carved in stone when San Antonio coach Greg Popovich elected to rest Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter were already out with injury. This was the equivalent of playing a Battle of the Bands against the Beatles minus John, Paul, George, and Ringo. And yes, the local band beat the more famous band's roadies, stage techs, and back-up singers.
Portland was making sweet music early. Jamal Crawford was on fire in the first period. Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge followed suit. The Blazers committed a couple turnovers but only missed 4 shots in the first period. They went 8-11 from the three-point arc and led 41-23 after one.
Unlike in most blowouts, the Spurs never really made a run after that. Portland kept up a high-tempo offense, pushing quickly, moving the ball, and attacking with their first advantage. LaMarcus Aldridge didn't touch the ball as much as usual but then again the Blazers didn't need him to. They pushed the lead to 40 and held there. End of story.
When the Blazers play fast and stroke jumpers they're pretty to watch. The floor opening up does wonders for their charisma. They pass quickly and finish nicely. More experienced and defensive-minded teams take that all away, of course. But Portland shouldn't forget what their ideal looks like.
LaMarcus Aldridge played 27 minutes, as close to a night off as he gets. The run was free and easy. He ended up 8-12 from the field for 21 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block. It was hopefully a welcome relief from the nights his teammates pass him the ball and cry, "Save us!"
Gerald Wallace put in 32 solid minutes with 6-10 shooting, 19 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 blocks.
Nicolas Batum shot 7-12, 3-5 from distance, scoring 19 and adding 6 rebounds.
Jamal Crawford got a huge push in his first night as starting point guard. He had 12 points and 5 assists before the first quarter was out. He finished the game 6-8, 5-7 from the arc, with 20 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, and only 1 turnover. See the asterisk above before going crazy.
Marcus Camby played 15 minutes with 5 rebounds. Rest, old timer.
Remember how in last night's Lakers recap we said Raymond Felton finally shot a three-pointer squared up and with decent form and it went in? He did it a bunch more tonight, going 4-8 from the arc, 6-11 overall for 16 points and 4 assists in 21 minutes off the bench.
Wesley Matthews went 5-10 overall but spoiled the three-point shooting party by hitting only 1 of 4. He still scored 11 with 4 assists and 4 rebounds in 24 minutes. He left the game with 9:30 left in the fourth period and the Blazers up 43. I know Portland's deep bench players haven't been good to their coach in tight situations. I know they're prone to giving up leads. But you know, if you're up by 40 or more in the second half every player that's important to you in any way should be sitting on the bench. I mean, if your 9th-12th players are so bad that they can't hold a 15-point lead they need more practice. If they can't hold a 40-point lead they need to be cut.
Kurt Thomas saw 12 minutes with 2 blocks. You rest too, old-timer.
Speaking of the deep end of the bench...
Elliot "Pan Am" Williams again took flight, dunking off of an alley-oop for the play of the night, scoring at will, leaping for rebounds...you name it. It was fun to see him all but unguarded. If this guy were 6'7" and/or had any point guard skills...oh my gosh. He may eventually get to oh my gosh anyway. 7-10 from the field, 3-6 from the foul line for 17 points in 18 minutes.
Nolan Smith played 10 minutes and had 5 points (including a nifty cross-lane drive with a shot backwards at the rim after elevating...degree of difficulty substantial), 3 assists and 2 rebounds. He looks more confident and in place than he did at the beginning of the year.
Craig Smith played 9 minutes and shot everything he touched. 2 points, 1 rebound.
Chris Johnson had 2 points, 2 rebounds, 8 block attempts, but no blocks in 8 minutes.
Luke Babbitt got a generous round of applause on a made three and some more polite claps after his 2 rebounds.
Fun With Numbers
- Blazers shoot 59% for the game, Spurs 38%. That's disgusting.
- Blazers shoot 54% from the arc, 15-28. Normally approaching 30 three-point attempts in a game would be a disaster for the Blazers. Not so much tonight.
- Blazers 31 assists, Spurs 13.
- Blazers 52 points in the paint.
- Blazers 22-12 points after turnovers advantage
- Blazers 47-33 on the boards.
Let's hope the guys enjoy a combination of rest and practice during the week to come.
Pounding The Rock has the unenviable task of recapping the other side of this game.
Your Jersey Contest Scoreboard for the month. We're going to hold off on the form for next week until the game gets closer.