In a Nutshell
In a nutshell is about all you need for this game. San Antonio came out determined to destroy the Blazers and they did, outclassing Portland in every aspect of the game.
All downhill, I'm afraid.
The Blazers played some surprisingly good interior defense early, getting a few blocks, rebounds, and turnovers. But the Blazers also started the game shooting 2-15. How long was that defense going to last, really? Not even a quarter as it turned out. But the bad shooting lasted all night long. The Spurs led 31-18 after the first quarter. Their second unit pwned any lineup the Blazers could throw out there. The Spurs won the second quarter 32-23, the third 28-24, and the final one 33-24 to win going away, 124-89. You may remember that Greg Popovich sat his main guys in a game in Portland earlier this season, a game which the Blazers won 137-97. Blowout avenged. The Spurs clinch the best record in the West and are still in the hunt for homecourt throughout the playoffs. The Blazers are one game away from ending their miserable end-of-season run.
Blazer fans are struggling to find positives about any of the players in this bench rotation. Seriously, how delirious would Portland supporters be if the Blazers were fielding Manu Ginobili, Stephen Jackson, DeJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter, and Gary Neal right now? Those are all San Antonio bench players. Portland would take ANY of them except maybe Jackson, who would be an odd fit.
- Raymond Felton returned tonight. He shot 5-16 (31%), dished 7 assists, and committed 4 turnovers. Despite those numbers he was a sight for sore eyes compared to the last couple of games.
- Jamal Crawford and Nicolas Batum did not play.
- The Spurs were all over J.J. Hickson and Luke Babbitt tonight, no doubt knowing that those two were surprising scoring sources for the Blazers lately. Once again we saw the perils of believing too much in these late-season numbers. Players have to go through a progression: the initial coming out, defenses keying on you, overcoming that, defenses adjusting again, then overcoming that to earn your spot on the floor. When faced with pressure Babbitt looks like a turtle on his back and Hickson has trouble getting his accustomed looks. Luke went 2-6 in 30 minutes for 5 points. J.J. had 10 rebounds in 32 minutes but shot 5-15 for 14 points.
- Wesley Matthews again led the team in scoring tonight with 24 points. He took 24 shot attempts to do it, hitting 9. Allen Iverson would be proud.
- Hasheem Thabeet had a couple of nice moment and nabbed 3 rebounds with 2 blocks in 10 minutes. He also had 3 personal fouls.
- Jonny Flynn and Nolan Smith were both active tonight. Smith shot 5-12 for 10 points in 33 minutes, Flynn 4-9 for 9 points in 18 minutes. Smith beat out Flynn in the assist department, 5-3 and he also grabbed 6 rebounds.
Fun With Numbers
- The Blazers scored 25 fast break points. Good! They allowed 31 though. Bad. If the Spurs had gotten back on defense I shudder to think what the score would have been.
- The Spurs had almost as many assists (34) as the Blazers had made field goals (37).
- The Blazers shot 38.5%, the Spurs 59.3%. Ouchy.
- Spurs 54.5% from distance too. Wow.
- San Antonio scores 124 and only 31 of those came in the paint.
Elmo and Abby are singing "Think Happy Thoughts" on a Sesame Street DVD that my kid is watching as I type. I'm trying. How come the only one that comes to mind right now is, "One game left in the season"?
Pounding the Rock will convince you to adopt the Spurs as your playoff team.