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What we learned from the Spurs loss to the Blazers

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Shorthanded Spurs lose a tight battle in Rip City.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Game #41 found the Spurs once again taking on the opposition with a third of their roster unavailable. I don’t think there is another team in the league that has had to shuffle their lineup and re-allocate minutes like the Silver and Black have in the first half of the season. Fortunately, this team of seasoned vets and youthful contributors have more times than not been able to answer the call. To some degree that happened once again against the Trail Blazers Sunday evening, but the good guys lacked their normal intensity on the defensive end and it cost them the game.

Here are the takeaways from an electric night of offense.

Observations:

  • The two man game between LaMarcus Aldridge and Dejounte Murray was intriguing Sunday evening. DJ and LMA have appeared to have developed a nice chemistry in the pick and roll/pick and pop game. That is a great sign for the second year point guard, however the next step in his progression will be scoring off of those matchups when teams start to stay at home on Aldridge. He can still be a bit careless with the ball at times, but the more minutes he gets should help iron those issues out. Defensively, Dejounte’s aggressiveness often times worked against him, as the combination of CJ McCollum and Shabazz Napier blew past him on the perimeter. It’s may be a roller coaster ride with #5 right now, but I expect that PATFO are more than happy that they grabbed a seat.
  • Aldridge walked into the Moda Center with a vendetta against his former team. The former Blazer reminded the Portland faithful of what they lost 3 summers ago. The 6’11” sharp-shooter showed off his entire arsenal. His footwork on the low block was the best I’ve seen from him in a Spurs jersey, and on nights where he is hitting from 17 feet, he is virtually unguardable. What is probably the most exciting thing about the all star’s performance though, was his actions off the court:
  • Manu, freaking, Ginobili. Dude, I’m a lost for words. The 40 year old hall of famer continues to add to his legacy on the back of historic performances like this.

The 77 year old pick and roll between him and Gasol has became a deadly threat against opposing second units, as the former all star shooting guard has proven he can still get to the rim, and despite the below-average shooting percentage from deep this year, teams have to respect his range. Please Manu, never leave.

  • Kyle Anderson did a nice job staying aggressive as a primary play maker and ball handler. On occasion, his passiveness as a shooter has hampered the offense, but he has been doing a great job of combating that by attacking opposing bigs off the dribble.
  • Pau Gasol had a strong game offensively against Portland, scoring 15 points and dishing out 5 assists. #16’s offense makes him a match-up nightmare against smaller defenders. The only downfall is what happens on the other end of the floor. In his two-year stint in San Antonio opposing offenses have exposed the Spaniard in pick and roll coverage. The firepower and versatility he brings offensively is far too valuable for him to not see the floor, and it will be interesting to see how Pop can hide his deficiencies in a 7 game series.
  • Patty Mills had a rough night at the office despite his normally effective performances against Portland. The Trail Blazers attacked his size and did a great job of setting off-ball screens to present favorable matchups against the Aussie. Offensively, he seemed to take a back seat in the play-making department and instead of attacking, played off of the ball movement created by others.
  • Davis Bertans had some strong stretches on the floor both shooting the ball and defending. His confidence and awareness defensively have gradually improved through the first half of this season, and it has made a huge difference in his on-the-court-production. If he can find a way to attack the rim when the defense closes out on him, DB will become a complete player.