Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
You're not going to believe this. Behind a monster night by Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers walked into San Antonio and made the Spurs look like a lottery team, showing a tantalizing glimpse of one possible Blazer future.
The Blazers were led by an absolutely dominant Damian Lillard (35 points, 9 assists), who torched the Spurs in the second half and personally turned the game into a blowout. LaMarcus Aldridge (26 points) and JJ Hickson (23 points, 11 rebounds) had great nights, and Wesley Matthews (15 points) fought through an injury to help the cause. From the bench, Eric Maynor's three point touch was set to "ON FIRE", making a huge second half contribution with 20 points.
Meyers Leonard, Victor Claver and Matthews each injured their ankles in the second quarter. Matthews came back, but the other two did not return. Their x-rays were negative though.
A special thanks to those who took advantage of Dave's challenge for tonight's game (see the top of tonight's Gameday Thread). After a game like this, it was totally worth it!
First Quarter: The Spurs came out looking like a well-oiled machine. Nice plays, strong moves to the rim, solid D. The Blazers' defense was suspect, as Tim Duncan personally drove the ball coast-to-coast for an easy dunk. However, the Blazers stayed close, and Duncan picked up his second foul on a beautiful move by Hickson, so he headed to the bench. But this is San Antonio, and they know how to work within their system. The Spurs quickly took a 5 point lead, helped by two missed open lobs by the Blazers. Hickson and Aldridge did all the damage, scoring 21 of the first 25 Blazer points to keep them close. However, San Antonio led by 2 after the first, as both teams shot over 50% in the quarter.
Did we seriously just let Timmy go coast-to-coast? Ugh.
by Roy Wonder
Second Quarter: Before we could get started, Meyers Leonard landed on Manu Ginobili's foot, re-injuring his previously-hurt ankle, and headed to the locker room. A minute later, Claver landed on Stephen Jackson's foot, rolling his ankle too! The reeling Blazers quickly fell behind. But before San Antonio could take a breath, Eric Maynor and the starters found their bearings, and a Matthews three-pointer on the break tied the game. In all, the Blazers scored on 10 straight possessions to finally take the lead, including a nice Matthews block of Duncan, and Duncan's third foul at the other end. At the end of the run, Ginobili accidentally stepped on Matthews' ankle, causing him to roll in pain. Ginobili, fresh off all that damage, then nailed a three-pointer to tie the game at the half.
Oh good, I was just thinking that if there was one thing Wes needed, it was more nagging injuries.
Maybe we should pull a Pop and rest everyone for the rest of the game,
Ginoboli stop hurting us, literally.
Third Quarter: Matthews limped his way into a three-pointer to give the Blazers a 5 point lead. Neither team could gain an advantage from there, as Portland maintained a slim lead, and San Antonio picked up the D to stay close. The Blazers took every jab from the Spurs (Ginobili three-pointer), and gave a right hook (Matthews three-pointer). As the remnants of the Blazer bench arrived, Lillard swished a three for a 9-point lead. Luke Babbitt made it 10 with a three. But San Antonio mounted up for a late run, but Lillard said "nope!", scoring 11 points in three minutes to keep the lead at 8.
Who was it who said that Lillard had a low ceiling? It doesn’t get much better than that!
Fourth Quarter: The Blazers foiled a Spurs full-court press for a Maynor layup in 5 seconds to start the quarter. After a stop, Lillard nails a layup plus the foul. The Blazer lead was 13. After another stop, Lillard runs down for a jumper... boom! 15 point Blazer lead, and San Antonio needed a timeout. You can guess the primary topic of discussion in their huddle. Out of the timeout, Ginobili tries to provide the Spurs' offense, but Matthews and Maynor nail back to back three's, as the crowd gasps and the Blazers lead by 19!
With 9 minutes left, the Spurs attempt to make their run. Matt Bonner and Danny Green cut the lead to 15 with under 8 minutes left, as visions of the Memphis comeback haunt the minds of Blazer fans. The Blazers take a timeout, but with Lillard resting, the Spurs continued to cut the lead, and the Blazer scoring stopped cold. Lillard returned as the lead reached 12. And in seconds, he nailed a three-pointer. Batum shut down the Spurs on D, and Lillard shot another three... and missed, but was fouled! Just like that, the Blazer lead was 18 again.
As the clock ticked down to 5:00, the Spurs started another comeba-- nevermind, Lillard nailed another three! Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich shrugged, sighed, and put in all his shooters. In response, Maynor nailed another three-pointer.
And with that, the crowd said goodnight, the bench had some fun, and this recap was unexpectedly finished early.
Stay tuned for more analysis from Blazer’s Edge later tonight. In the meantime, check out the upcoming Blazers schedule. -- Tim