LaMarcus Aldridge returned to an unwelcome Portland crowd. The Blazer's had high energy to start the game, with CJ McCollum leading the early surge. Portland went up by eight which lead to SA timeout about halfway through the quarter.
The second unit trio of Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw, and Patty Mills came in to get some offense to end the first quarter with Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, and gave the Spurs the lead going into the second. The Spurs are moving the ball extremely well the last few games, and assisted on 11 of their 17 makes in the first half.
The Spurs were able to control the pace in the second quarter, and went into the half with a 12 point lead. Tim Duncan went 5-for-6 in the first two quarters, and pulled down five boards. The Spurs as a team shot 59%, and had 16 assists on 23 shots. McCollum has been taking a ton of shots for Portland so far this season, as he and Damian Lillard have taken the majority of the scoring load. McCollum was the only one who had much of anything going in the first half.
Lillard and McCollum led the Blazers in a run to tie the game up in the third quarter, and the Spurs offense shriveled up a tad. It's gotten to the point where I get excited when the Spurs' second unit comes in, because I know the ball will start moving to get the offense going. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as the starting unit can continue to improve it's chemistry and the Spurs can keep closing out games.
LaMarcus really started to get going in the third quarter. He hit some big jumpers to maintain the Spurs' lead as they headed into the fourth. The crowd continued to boo him every time he touched the ball, but he didn't seem to care too much. He finished the game with 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting.
Kawhi also had another 20 point game, which makes four straight games with 20+. Manu had another magnificent game off the bench, finishing with 14 points, five rebounds, and three assists in 22 minutes.
Ultimately, once again, the second unit was able to push the Spurs to a victory, and the Blazers starters ran out of gas. The way Pop mixes line-ups, sprinkling in starters with Boris, Patty, and Manu, is really able to get the offense going after things start off slow. It's different, but I'm beginning to like the system that seems to be falling into place for San Antonio.
The Spurs win this one in Aldridge's one and only regular season return to Portland this season. SA improves to 6-2.