The Blazers started this game much better than the first one, taking their first lead of the series after a Batum triple that made it 7-4. The Spurs countered with Kawhi Leonard, who scored eight of the first 12 points for the Spurs, and went up 12-7, before Batum connected on another deep ball and Robin Lopez knocked down a wide open jumper. Tie game. By the time the first quarter was over it seemed like we were going to be in for a tightly contested basketball game. The Spurs won the period, but just by three this time, 29-26.
Mo Williams hit a jumper for the Blazers, and then it was Boris Diaw time. He scored seven straight for the Spurs and Kawhi hit a nice pull-up j to push the Spurs advantage to eight with 10 minutes still left in the period. The Spurs shot 58.6% from the floor to this point, despite Tony Parker starting just 1-of-6, but he did have six assists and no turnovers. The rest of the team started 16-23. Portland just didn't seem equipped to deal with the multi-headed attack of the Spurs. The Spurs forced the Blazers into tough shots and pretty much everything the Blazers got was hard fought. Meanwhile the Spurs continued to shoot well, mostly by passing the ball and creating good looks. Portland still struggled containing pick and rolls and the Spurs attacked relentlessly, finishing the first half with 70 points and it kind of felt like it easily could have been 80. The Blazers put a more than respectable 51 points on the scoreboard, but they shot just 43%, with Robin Lopez and LaMarcus Aldridge combining to connect of just 4 of their 17 first half attempts.
For some reason the Spurs continued to secure offensive rebounds, collecting seven in the first half. The Spurs also tallied 19 assists on their 30 field goals. It was an amazing second quarter performance from the good guys.
Portland played better in the third quarter, even cutting the lead to 12 with a couple of minutes left in the quarter, but the Spurs regrouped and finished strong, stretching the lead back out to 16 on a Patty Mills jumper before the final break. After scoring 70 first half points, the Spurs managed to score just 17 in the third, going 8-of-21 from the field, but the Spurs held the Blazers to just 20, 8-of-23 to take an 87-71 lead after 36 minutes.
The Blazers did not go quietly, showing heart, playing tough, and they cut the lead to nine after a Tony Parker turnover led to a Nic Batum alley-oop layup. Manu hit back-to-back shots for the Spurs, but the Blazers responded. They cut the lead to just eight as Aldridge took advantage of Boris to score in the post and to find Batum for a triple. Boris responded with a big time three of his own, and Splitter was quickly subbed back in. LaMarcus Aldridge missed his next three shots, as he's having serious problems with Tiago. Kawhi and Manu hit back-to-back triples, the Spurs' lead swelled to 17, the benches cleared, and the butt whooping was complete.
The Spurs have done good work at home. Let's hope they continue to stay hungry. It's probably going to get tougher come Saturday night.
Head on over to Blazer's Edge if you want to check out the perspective of the fans of the opponents, hang out and chat with the guys over there. If you go, play nice.
Your Spurs improve to 6-3 in the postseason and the Magic Number is now 10. This team is so easy to root for.
On Tony Parker's off shooting night, and overall play
He directs things for us out there, just like any point guard is supposed to. Even though his shot wasn't falling, he stayed aggressive, he stayed in the game, he found teammates and he did a good job defensively.
On Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi is a young player who has just gotten better as each month has rolled along. He obviously looks confident, and that's the way we want him. He's got a nice touch, he enjoys playing defense, he hits the board for us, he's a darn good all-around player.
On making Lillard and Aldridge work for their points.
I think those guys that guarded them did the best job they good. As I've said several times, you don't stop all-star caliber players, you just try to make them work hard. I thought we did that. They didn't make shots, part of it was probably the defense, but they also had open shots that they missed. It's never one thing, but they made them work hard.
On the bench
Our bench has been very important for us all year. We would not have this home-court advantage right now if it had not been for the play of those guys. They did a wonderful job all season long, and they're continuing to do it, it seems.
On Kawhi deferring to the big-3. How have you gotten him to loosen up and look for his shot?
That's a process. A young player comes in and it's probably smart for the young player to defer. Even Timmy deferred when he came in, to David, for about two and a half days (joke). Then David understood who Timmy was. In Kawhi's case he's got three veteran players out there, and it's been a process where he's come into his own, so to speak. But those three guys encourage him. There might be other open guys on the court, but when he jumps up in the air, catches it, his shots are pretty uncontested. It's tough to get to his shot. He's long, he's got decent quickness, and with each make I guess he gets more confident, but the team encourages him, those three guys really encourage him. That helps him a great deal
Was that your best half offensively?
I don't know if we've had a better one. I can't remember that sort of thing. Sometimes you score a lot of points, sometimes you don't. The point is, I thought we moved the ball and played with each other. We kept a good pace. We play better with pace, instead of just walking it up. I think we did that.
What did getting pushed to seven games last series trigger for this team?
I think our bench has kicked in to some degree. Our bench didn't do what they do what they're doing now in the first, maybe, four or five games of the Dallas series. I'd have to go back and look. They've come back into their own. Tony has been a great leader and a great force for us to start things off.