The first quarter was an improvement for Blazer fans. San Antonio missed shots, and Portland hit plenty, which covered for their penchant for handing the Spurs the ball repeatedly. The turnovers cost them heavily when Patty Mills' back to back three's gave the Spurs the lead. But Portland recovered with a late run to hold a 5 point lead after the first quarter. But the Spurs had been dominant in the second quarter, and this one started no differently, as every shot found the bottom of the net. Meanwhile, it was the usual Blazer shooting issues. But Will Barton caught fire off the bench to keep the Blazers in the lead as the starters returned. The teams fought back and forth in front of a crowd that poured all their energy into every shot. And to the shock of possibly the entire NBA, Portland led at halftime. By two, but that counts.
The Blazers came out of the locker room energized, keeping them in the lead. However, they struggled to hit open shots, and it prevented a larger lead. A Batum four-point play pushed the lead to a series-high 8, and followed it up with another three for an 11 point lead. Then Lillard for three, 14 point lead. A Barton layup on the break completed a 14-3 run to push the lead to 15. As the quarter closed down, Portland shut down San Antonio, and took a 17 point lead into the fourth quarter.
As the fourth opened, here come the Spurs, as they scored 4 quick points to cut the lead back to 13. But Lillard scored 5 straight points to push it to 18. As the San Antonio starters rode the bench, a Lillard layup made it 20. However, he committed two consecutive turnovers to keep things close. San Antonio's bench closed to within 11, but only 90 seconds remained in the game, and the game was soon in the books.
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard's 25 points and 5 assists, LaMarcus Aldridge's 19 points, and Will Barton's 17 points and 6 rebounds off the bench. Nicolas Batum had a huge night with 14 points, 14 rebounds and 8 assists.
Another game! Wednesday night the teams play Game 5 in San Antonio.
But stay tuned tonight for lots of analysis from Dave, then Ben's Media Row Report.
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