Nate McMillan talks all the time about big plays, and how the teams that run the NBA know how to come through in the clutch with those plays. The Portland Trail Blazers haven't always been one of those team you can count on to come up with the big play, but on Friday night against the Spurs, they squeezed a month's worth of big plays into the final 30 seconds to get a much needed victory.
The following is a retelling of those four plays -- a steal by Andre Miller, a steal by Wesley Matthews, two free throws by Nicolas Batum and Miller's lob to Batum to win the game -- by the players and coaches to made and drew up those plays.
32 seconds to play. Andre Miller pokes the ball away from Tony Parker:
“I was just trying to take a risk. I saw he was kind of close to the sideline, like ‘why not?’ you know?. We’re down four points, they’re just going to drag the game out and win the game. So close, I knew he couldn’t crossover to the sideline, so I set on it perfect.”
7 seconds to play. Wesley Matthews pressures Manu Ginobili to turn the ball over:
"When i didn't see a screen coming, didn't hear a screen coming, I figured it was me and him one on one. Watched a lot of tape. Student of the game. I know what he likes to go to. He's got a complete package, an arsenal, but every time i see him hit a game-winner it's a left to right crossover to a stepback going right. So as soon as I saw the ball go out, I wanted to rush him."
0.9 seconds to play. Nicolas Batum is fouled by Matt Bonner, sending him to the line for two game-tying free throws:
“I haven’t seen him in that position too many times, but those two free throws were big. That was a lot of pressure."
"No pressure. I know I got to do it. I'm not going to make it down. I just go to line and for me the arena was empty. I was alone. Nobody was here. I just took my two free throws like I was in practice."
0.9 seconds left to play. Steve Novak throws the ball out on bounds on an inbounds pass:
"We were basically trying to do something similar to what they did. Obviously we didn’t execute it as well.”
"I thought that was a big play where they threw the ball out of bounds and our guys didn’t touch it to give us that last possession.”
“Yeah, we wanted to throw it straight out of bounds without anybody touching it. It’s not his fault. Everything doesn’t work all the time. He was looking for Manu.”
0.9 seconds to play. Andre Miller lobs an inbounds pass to Nicolas Batum, who redirects the ball into the basket to give the Trail Blazers the 98-96 victory:
"We work on special situations as much as we can, I wouldn’t say every day, but we walk through them. That’s just a last second shot play that we’ve had. One of my scouts gave it to me – Larry. Perfect timing for it. It was executed perfect. I thought Miller threw the right pass and put it right in front of the rim and all Nic had to do was catch it and put it in the hole. So, well-executed play.”
“In situations like that, you know that teams are going to switch and basically, you switch. Brandon was a decoy in that situation. Nic goes to the rim, just put it at the rim. You hope that they do switch and I think Parker or Ginobili, one of those guys were underneath Nic, but Andre threw a perfect pass to execute that.”
“We knew they were going to go to the rim. We were switching it, and did a poor job switching it. They did a great job executing.”
"“We were supposed to switch, and we didn’t. I don’t know, I didn’t see it. We were supposed to switch and something happened.”
“We said that we were going to switch everything, and there was never really a pick. It was just a great play from Portland.”
"They were covering us tightly. I think they were playing us for a 3, for a jumpshot. It was designed perfectly. Everybody cut hard, Nic was able to get a slip, Dre threw a perfect pass and Nic put it in."
“That (assist to Batum) is number one. That’s number one right there for me. That team is the best team in the league, that type of situation losing by six points, being able to make plays against a championship team, championship guards that play high level basketball all the time. To be able to come back and win that game like that, it’s one of the best ones in my book.”
"We make a play for Wes and B.Roy to screen and they can't focus on me, so I just have to dive for the screen. I was alone. Dre made a perfect pass and I just put the ball inside and we win the game."
"I tried to dunk it but was too far, just have to push it. The ball just turn around. I was scared to miss it a little bit. The ref say "Good" so I feel great."