Recap: Patty drops 29 on former team, Spurs win 111-109

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs continue to rack up wins on the road despite missing key players every night for the entire calendar year. The good guys are now 22-7 on the road for the season.

The Spurs were without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, and Aron Baynes tonight but the team does what they do--win games on the road. The good guys are now an awesome 6-2 on the Rodeo Road trip, which is truly otstanding considering all of the games missed due to injury. San Antonio beat two mid-tier teams on back to back nights and hopefully this is the start of them rounding into form as they only look to get healthier in the coming week or two.

Remember when Portland fans were really upset that no one was calling them one of the best in the West during their hot start this season? Well, Portland is now 11-11 in 2014. In addition they have lost three in a row and are 3-7 over their last 10. To make things worse for them, All-Star Lamarcus Aldridge is out for a week with a groin issue. It's tough to sustain winning when your team isn't any good at defense. Despite the recent head-to-head record between the two clubs I have no fear of Portland, as jump shooting teams that struggle playing D do not fare well when things start to matter.

The Spurs pull off two road upsets in a row, and this is the time of year that the boys really start to put things together. The push to the playoffs should be a lot of fun

The Game

Well that was an interesting first quarter, with the Spurs struggling to get their offense working (just one assist in the quarter) and the Blazers still shaking off all-star-break rust. Both teams shot 35 percent from the floor for the quarter, but the Blazers out-rebounded the Spurs 18 to 11 and took a 24-18 lead into the second quarter. Robin Lopez was a beast on the offensive glass where four of his five first-quarter rebounds were of the offensive variety.

The second quarter was tightly contested and after a great inbounds pass from Manu Ginobili to Marco Belinelli that led to a game-tying uncontested layup Bill Land asked, "How much fun is it to see those two on the floor together again." To which Sean Elliot replied, "Those two guys...when they're on the floor it gets all wacky and crazy." At least Sean didn't make some remark about food.

With just over three minutes left in the first half Marco knocked down back-to-back three balls to give the Spurs their first lead (43-41) since they were up 2-0. With Marco's two threes the Spurs improved to 2-of-8 from behind the arc. Both teams finished the last four minutes of the half scoring at a higher clip than they had earlier in the game and the Spurs trailed 51-52 going into the break.

In the third quarter Manu Ginobili scored seven points and had two assists in the first five minutes of the quarter.The Spurs built a nine point lead halfway through the third, but the Blazers went on an 8-0 run to cut it to one before Matt Bonner hit a little floater to stop the bleeding and Patty Mills chipped in four more. Of course, Portland had a 9-0 run to take a four point lead before The Manu scored four for the Spurs to cut the deficit to two going into the deciding quarter, 79-81.

The fourth quarter started off well for the Spurs with Boris finally getting something going in the paint, dropping a soft little scoop in traffic before Danny Green hit a long-ball on the next offensive trip. On the next possession Danny took his temperature with a transition three and determined that he was indeed hot. An 8-0 Spurs run gave the good guys a six-point lead. San Antonio increased the lead to ten on a couple of Mills makes before the Blazers made their first field goal of the quarter with 6:24 left, making it a 92-84 game.

Portland was not going to go away quietly in this one and used a 16-7 run to tie the game at 101. Damian Lillard briefly caught fire and scored eight of those 16 in two minutes before finally missing a layup.

With the game still tied, Marco used a devastating screen from Tiago to knock down a three ball, and the two of them followed it up with another pick and roll which saw Marco make a gorgeous anticipatory bounce-pass to Splitter, who took it through the lane and finished with an and-one opportunity. Spurs lead 106-101.

The last 54 seconds of game time turned into at least 15 minutes of real time. Mo Williams hit a three to cut the SA lead to three, but that was all they converted on until Batum made a layup to cut make it 109-106 with three seconds left. A couple of possessions before that Marco received the ball around halfcourt from Boris after Diaw stole the ball from Robin Lopez. Belinelli hugged the ball assuming that Portland was going to immediately foul him, but Lillard grabbed the ball and the refs called a jump-ball.

Danny Green secured the jump and hit his free throws increasing the lead to five with 11 seconds left--ballgame. Five minutes later Damian Lillard hit a meaningless three and the Spurs won the game 111-109.

Observations:

  • I'm not sure what was wrong with Boris Diaw tonight. The usually efficient post-scorer struggled tonight and missed a bunch of easy looks. It was probably just an off night for him, but I was expecting him to have his way in the paint in the game.
  • Manu Ginobili is amazine. He finished the night with a plus-20 (he was plus-19 last night against the Clips) in just 19 minutes of action. In his limited action he scored 16 points on 10 shots while also grabbing five boards and dishing four assists. I'm so happy to see him back and playing so well.
  • Patty Mills followed up his 25 point performance versus the Clippers with 29 tonight. He took 30% of the shots for the Spurs. His 26 attempts must be the most, or at least close to, for a player off of the bench for any team this season. Again he was fantastic in the fourth, where he scored 13 for SA.
  • The Spurs were out-rebounded and they took less shots and free throws than the Blazers, but Portland allowed them to shoot 49% from the floor. If the Blazers want to be considered dangerous they have to start playing some defense. In fact, with Dallas, Phoenix, and Memphis playing good ball, the Blazers need to focus on their own end to make sure that they make the playoffs.
  • You know that old trick/saying where if you're nervous you should picture everyone in their underwear while making a speech or something. Mo Williams should picture the Spurs in every game he plays because for some reason he is great against the silver and black. Tonight he had 19 points on 57% shooting.
  • The two teams combined for just 34 assists on the night, a number that the Spurs can hit by themselves when everything is clicking for them. San Antonio's been under the radar again this year, but they're still second in the West despite their injury struggles that are now almost over. These last two wins have me thinking that when healthy, the good guys have a great shot again this year. Maybe it's just me, but everything seems to be coming together for them during the RRT--as usual. Good win for the team, and the Suns will have a tough time beating the Spurs on Friday.

Your Spurs improve to 40-15 on the season.

Check out the Blazers fan's perspective at the always great Blazer's Edge.

Next up:

The Spurs get a day off before taking on the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix surprised everyone during the first quarter of the season, but at this point I think it's clear that they are a pretty good team and will probably make the playoffs in the stacked West. The Suns beat the Celtics on Wednesday night and have now won eight of their last 11.

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