San Antonio Spurs @ Portland Trail Blazers Game 3: Resilient Spurs Deny Portland

Steve Dykes

It was a story of two very different halves, but the Spurs resisted every Blazer run to win Game 3, 118-103.

It was the Tony Parker Show in Game 3 of the second round playoff series between the Spurs and Trail Blazers. The Frenchman once again displayed his brilliance, scoring a game-high 29 points as the "head of the Spurs' snake," as Pop described his star point guard tongue-in-cheek during his in-game interview.

The first quarter set the tone for the half. Though the Blazers hung tough through the first few minutes and even took a 13-12 lead at one point (and held the lead for longer than they had in the first two games combined), Tony Parker quickly proved too much for them. Parker poured in 12 points on a dazzling variety of jumpers, fakes, and drives. Tiago Splitter sent Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge a message with his unrelenting defensive pressure, and the Spurs led by 10 at quarter's end.

In the Game Thread, syllabear aptly called the second period The Massacre Quarter. It began with Boris Diaw stealing the ball from Damian Lillard, and it ended with Danny Green swiping another steal from Will Barton with one second remaining. Tony Parker continued his offensive display with eight points in the quarter, giving him 20 for the half. San Antonio built its lead to 23 at one point and ended the quarter up 60-40. Tim Duncan carved out yet another piece of history in his superlative career, passing Karl Malone and moving into 5th place on the all-time playoff scoring list, trailing only Jordan, Kareem, Kobe, and Shaq. That's right, the only guys to have more postseason points are men who can be referred to by one name.

Third Quarter: Portland came out with a vengeance, reducing the San Antonio lead to 7 after a couple of Nic Batum three-pointers with 7:24 left in the 3rd, going on a 12-0 run at one point. The Spurs were able to fend off the Portland attack, however, and finished the quarter up 83-69, thanks to cool free-throw shooting and a few clutch baskets from Tiago Splitter, Patty Mills and Boris Diaw.

The fourth quarter was rife with cold shooting and mental breakdowns from the Spurs, reminiscent of the Dallas series. One memorable snafu was an inbounds pass from Boris Diaw directly to Portland's Batum, who promptly laid it up to cut the lead to 11. Damian Lillard (21 pts, 9 ast) and LaMarcus Aldridge (21 pts, 12 reb) found their scoring touch while the Spurs' starters were on the bench, and the Blazers gained momentum. Pop called timeout and put the starters back in, and the lead methodically grew back up to 19 due to hyper-active team defense and clutch offense from Duncan (19 points), Parker, and Leonard. The closest the Blazers came from there on was 12. After Kawhi's big Game 2, he followed it up with 16 points and 10 rebounds tonight, besides his usual suffocating defense on Damian Lillard and others. All five Portland starters finished in double figures. The Spurs also had five players in double figures, including Manu Ginobili (14 points) and Patty Mills (10 points).

Stat of the Night: San Antonio's bench outscored Portland's bench 40-6.

Quick Notes:

  • The Spurs have spent 134:25 of the current series with the lead, contrasted by the 0:33 Portland has held the lead.
  • In tonight's game, the Spurs shot 48.3% from the field and 33.3% from beyond the arc.
  • The Spurs were perfect on free throws, making 25 of 25, led by Manu Ginobili's 10 of 10.
  • The Blazers doubled the Spurs' turnovers, 14-7, while the Spurs doubled the Blazers' steals, 10-5.
  • No one blocked a shot tonight.
  • Both teams had 23 assists.
  • The Spurs held the scoring advantage in the paint, 44-34.
  • SA has scored at least 60 points in the first half in each game of the series.
  • No NBA team in history has won a seven-game series after being down 3-0.

Series Outlook: See final Quick Note above. Portland finds itself in a very difficult position after losing on its home court. The Blazers will either respond like a cornered animal and give the Spurs the fight of their life in Game 4, or they will subconsciously accept being swept and coast to defeat. I tend to believe the former. I think this Blazer team found enough momentum at certain points tonight to possibly squeeze out a win next game. The potential is always there for the Spurs to experience a bit of a letdown after their outstanding performances in the last four games. We could see a blowout in Game 4, but it's more likely we'll see a nail-biter.

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