El Conclusión: Portland Trail Blazers 98, San Antonio Spurs 90

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San Antonio Spurs 90 FinalRecap | Box Score 98 Portland Trail Blazers
Tim Duncan, PF 30 MIN | 6-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | 0Anchored the defense through an overall rough night for the team, keeping the Spurs within striking distance for an offensive surge that never came. But the pick and roll that provides Duncan with a few easy points was ragged, the jumper flat, and the legs too tired to carry the Spurs through the night as he did in Utah.
DeJuan Blair, C 10 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -6Started the game, came in for a brief moment in the second half. Moving on.
Tony Parker, PG 37 MIN | 7-15 FG | 7-7 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 21 PTS | -10The burst was lacking for most of the game, keeping in line with the theme of tonight’s game: fatigue. At least twice in transition Parker cooled the jets when normally he would have pressured the defense. Parker also struggled turning the corner against hedging big men, mucking up the Spurs pick and roll. Still, was able to grind his way through 21 points through sheer skill and getting to the free throw line.
Gary Neal, PG 33 MIN | 2-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -10The increase in minutes over the past month may have finally settled into Gary Neal’s legs. Most of his shots were perfectly on line, but hit the front of the rim. Neal could use a reprieve from his extended role, which is probably pushing the limits of his skill set.
Danny Green, SG 29 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -1Watching Danny Green the last two games I’m beginning to wonder if LeBron James didn’t perfect the art of the chase down block practicing with Green everyday. It happens quite a bit.
Matt Bonner, PF 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -1I felt tonight would have been a good night for Matt Bonner to get some extended run. Many of the Spurs shooters were tentative or ineffective and the guards had trouble finding or creating driving and passing lanes.
Tiago Splitter, PF 29 MIN | 4-8 FG | 4-8 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS | -5During the TNT broadcast it was pointed out that the Spurs lead the league in fourth quarter scoring, and Tiago Splitter has been a big part of that. Tonight he added some excellent passes and one-on-one defense against LaMarcus Aldridge. That being said, when defending pick and rolls if you’re going to hedge it’s imperative you at least force the ball handler to retreat a step or two before recovering to your man. If it seems like heavier criticism than I’m giving the other bigs, it’s because he’s playing well enough to expect more.
Boris Diaw, C 20 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 7 PTS | 0Too many shot fakes from a player no reasonably intelligent defender believes he would shoot. Too many drives or passes that did not advance the offense, killing time. And at least one too many passes thrown into the fifth row.
Patty Mills, PG 12 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | +4Given how exhausted the rest of the backcourt looked, I felt Mills would have been a good candidate for more minutes. Perhaps there are some defensive concerns against Lillard, especially with little help from the second unit bigs, but the energy is always consistent and the shot making needed.
Nando de Colo, PG 5 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | +2Another player who I would have liked to see on the court a little more. But with other shooters hesitating on the perimeter, De Colo isn’t exactly the one to change that culture. Still, fresh legs are fresh legs are fresh legs.
Manu Ginobili, SG 30 MIN | 4-7 FG | 3-6 FT | 6 REB | 7 AST | 12 PTS | -11At first glance the stat line doesn’t look bad. But watching the game, almost every high screen presented to Manu ended with him failing to take even one dribble inside the three-point line. If the screen didn’t immediately present a quick hitting option on the dive it was practically wasted time in the possession. The difference between Ginobili the star and Ginobili the role player is his ability to turn the corner on that hedge or split the defenders.

Five Things We Saw

  1. In today’s preview I mentioned that fatigue would be the one advantage Portland could cling to if it hoped for a victory and it played out tonight. Shots were flat, 50/50 balls lost, and passes sailed into the stands. The Trail Blazers aren’t a world class defense and yet the Spurs guards failed to turn the corner and get Portland deep into their defensive rotations. If a quick-hitting opportunity didn’t present itself, the Spurs often found themselves in trouble.
  2. More thoughts on fatigue: there were times when Parker or Ginobili failed to bring the ball up with the same sense of urgency we’ve grown accustomed to, robbing the Spurs of some of the early offense and easy baskets that would have helped in a game like this.
  3. There will be some who would like to see Nando De Colo get a few more minutes, and then there are two defensive possessions that stood out in my mind. On the first, De Colo shows at the elbow on a pick and pop, a tactic the Spurs use to disrupt these plays to cover for a front line too slow to recover to shooter. But he stays too long, goes for a steal, and ultimately loses track of his assigned shooter, who fortunately misses the three. On the next play he surrenders a back door cut for a layup against a lineup that struggles to create such shots.
  4. J.J. Hickson was huge for Portland tonight, and for the many casual fans getting a rare look at Hickson on TNT it’s easy to wonder how talent deficient teams like the Cavaliers and Kings could give up on him so easily. But as always context is everything. The Cavaliers and Kings featured Hickson in ways that pushed his limits to their breaking points and in return he was terrible. Playing alongside a skilled big man like Aldridge, with a point guard like Lillard, Hickson can focus on rebounding and picking up garbage points. Minimizing what you ask of him maximizes his return and puts him in a position to finally succeed.
  5. It’s hard to say which young point guards will develop a knack for finishing at the rim in the NBA but I feel it’s safe to say Damian Lillard will be one of them. He can score in a variety of ways and already has a solid grasp of running an NBA offense. If Lillard wins the Rookie of the Year due to Anthony Davis’ injuries I will be sad for his injuries but in no way disappointed in Lillard’s selection.
  • STIJL

    The Spurs played like like most tired teams play…they settled too often while forcing things they normally don’t force. But to their credit, they didn’t get blown out.

  • Blfoeld

    Forget trading Blair at this point…can we just GIVE him away to somebody? Anybody? How about if the Spurs sneak out of their Portland hotel early and forget to give Blair his wake-up call?

  • Titletown99030507d

    We had our chance to get something for him but now I don’t even know if he can be packaged. On a personal level I really feel for the guy. I think he was better when he was heavier. He had more weight power to box out and move big centers around now he’s just hoping for the ball to bounce his way. My suggestion start eating those Whataburgers and get back to what he does well rebound. I hope he’s not going through a mind f%$k because that can ruin your career. Tiago went through it but managed to ball up and prove himself. If your reading this DeJuan I was not your greatest supporter and it wasn’t because I didn’t like you but to prove a point that Tiago needed just as much burn but now for your sake and the teams get your mojo back we need you the way you used to be. Shake that shit off and prove Pop you belong.

  • Bruno

    “I think he was better when he was heavier” [2]

    PS: What the F%$# happened with this team?
    Neal/Green/Manu/Diaw are all playing like s#it.
    We are looking old, getting beat in fastbreaks.
    Pop rotations are weird.
    Just TD/TP/Splitter are playing well

  • junierizzle

    Tough game to watch, especially when you know the Blazers aren’t that good even with Lillard and Aldridge. Spurs just went through the motions.

    Thank you for calling out Green. Dude cannot finish on a break. Remember last year when TP told him, no more alley- oops for you.

    Also, no Leonard and Sjack is hurting the rebounding. Last night and in Utah they failed to get a critical rebound with less than two minutes to play.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Maybe they are worn out. Sad thing is the NBA makes the Spurs play two good teams back to back when they are frikin worn out from playing on the road on back to back road trips. A little rest and some humble pie (and I don’t mean the rock band- pre Peter Frampton) they’ll be fine.

  • Andrew G

    DeJaun’s play is begging to be demoted to the D-League when Leonard and Jackson come back. Maybe he can go there with Joseph and they can get some kind of chemistry on pick and rolls.

    I’m becoming increasingly frustrated watching Diaw pass up the open 3 and dribble into half the defense only to watch him make an unnecessary, flashy pass that, as of late, hasn’t been resulting in much.

  • Bruno

    Playing Green at PF might have something to do with it.

  • JT

    Yep, DeJuan will not be with us much longer. Its been 3 years and still not much to say about the guy. He just may doesn’t have skills necessary to play against the bigs in the NBA. Manu’s shot seems to be coming back, but damn, can he take care of the ball? He’s got more turnovers than made shots so far this season.

  • Tyler

    We have the 3rd best record in the NBA.

    Calm. Down.

  • Bry

    And look at how many road games the Spurs have played already. Their record is actually outstanding considering their schedule so far.