Portland Trail Blazers 136, San Antonio Spurs 106: Spurs give up most points in AT&T Center history
AT&T CENTER—Rain or shine, metaphorically speaking, Spurs guard Manu Ginobili is usually one of the most dependable post games quotes in the NBA.
Regardless of team or individual performance on any given night, Ginobili makes his way to a spot just a few feet from his locker about 10 minutes after the media has been allowed in. Barefooted, there he always lays out a towel to stand on while patiently answering all questions.
After giving up the most points allowed in AT&T Center history in the San Antonio Spurs 106-136 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, 15 minutes into the media interviews, Ginobili was nowhere to be found.
By the time he made his way to his locker, his teammates, television crews, and all but a newspaper reporter and blogger had already cleared the area. Quite frankly there wasn’t much to ask after a night like this, and in front of a large audience perhaps Ginobili wouldn’t have had as much to say.
“I go through two things,” Ginobili said. “During the game I’m embarrassed. You can’t take it and you try and do too many things. You say, ‘they kicked our butts,’ but then you have to erase it and move on to Oklahoma City.”
His team sinking in quicksand, Ginobili tried to stem the tide of the onslaught that was future Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard. Trying to answer three-pointers with contested three-pointers, the Spurs got away from their system as they were torn apart by a brilliant individual performance (35 points, nine assists, zero turnovers) from Lillard.
The Spurs finally faced the wrong end of the point guard business. While they survived the first two games without Tony Parker, they had yet to face anyone like Parker himself. Lillard is that. His understanding of the NBA pick and roll, changing up pace, directions, and attacking angles, are rare for most point guards, let alone one in his first season.
“He was pretty special. He just bid his time in the first half,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “In the second half Lillard just took over and we just couldn’t stop him. They had a great night shooting, they shot the hell out of it.”
“That’s a bad combination if they’re doing that and we’re playing poor defense,” Popovich added. “I can’t remember a night where we played that poorly and, at the same time, the other team shot the heck out of it.”
There hasn’t been a home game like this in the entire Popovich era. The breakdown started in the first half when the San Antonio Spurs surrendered 26 points in the paint to the Trail Blazers, and 19 points overall to J.J. Hickson.
Getting the worst of it was DeJuan Blair, who had put together a string of solid performances over the past few games. Late in the second quarter Blair lost Hickson on an inbounds play for an alley-oop dunk, a seemingly recurring theme for the Spurs against the Trail Blazers. Portland took a six-point lead and Blair never saw the floor again.
Still, the Spurs managed to tie the game on the strength of a late Ginobili scoring spree. Given a second chance, the Spurs figured to regroup at half.
“We didn’t play well in the first half. I think we had a good opportunity and we let it go. Even with that we came back by halftime, not deserving it, but we tied it,” Ginobili said. “ Lillard got hot.”
Lillard erupted for 25 points in the second half, hitting 3-4 from behind the three-point line (the Trail Blazers shot 11-15 as a team from three in the second half), leaving Danny Green to say and tweet he felt “violated” after the game.
It was a performance the Spurs couldn’t really control, though each player lamented their failure to handle everything else they had control over.
“It was a combination of us playing bad and them playing well,” Duncan said. “Obviously, we’ll try to learn from it. There will be a bunch of film session involved in this one, but hopefully we can regroup and come back fetter for the next one.”