mikebarrett

Mar 08

A Texas-Sized Beatdown

By mikebarrett Posted in: Spurs

“Lillard just took over and we couldn’t stop him.”

Those were the words of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich following Portland’s 136-106 win in San Antonio on Friday night.  He wasn’t the only one heaping praise on Lillard, after Damian put together one of the most impressive and dominant performances by a rookie in the modern era of NBA basketball.  This is one of those wins, and one of those efforts, that probably will be appreciated even more in the days that follow.

And, it wasn’t just Lillard.  Portland, as a team, unleashed a flurry of offense in the second half, and in the fourth quarter, particularly.  It all added up to San Antonio’s worst home loss in since 1997, a span of 635 games.  Ironically, that was the season San Antonio won just 20 games, then won the draft lottery and selected Tim Duncan.  They were humbled plenty during that season.  This season?  Not so much.

The Spurs entered the game on Friday night with the NBA’s best record at 48-14, and were 25-3 at home.  In fact, they had lost just one home game since November 19th.  So, considering all of that, could this be ranked as one of the most unexpected mega-blowouts in the history of both franchises?  It certainly seems so.

The Spurs came in with the NBA’s seventh-ranked defense, allowing just 96 points per game.  They were 25-0 when shooting at least 50 percent from the field, and were also 36-6 when scoring 100 points or more.  They did both of those things in this game, and lost by 30, on their own court.

Crazy stuff. 

The fourth quarter alone had Blazer media-relations guru Aaron Grossman diving into the record book. 

On November 25th, 1990, the Blazers put together what has called “The Perfect Quarter,” against, ironically, the San Antonio Spurs.  They scored 49 points in the first quarter of that game.  They scored 46 in the fourth quarter of this one.

Lillard and Eric Maynor combined for 28 points, 10-13 shooting, including 4-4 from three-point range, in the fourth quarter alone

I interviewed Lillard right after this game ended and asked him about the incredible zone he found himself in during that fourth quarter.  He said it all went back to a moment at the free-throw line in the third quarter.  For whatever reason, he explained, the ball came off his hands feeling very, very good on those two free-throw attempts.  Boom.  That was it.

After that trip to the line, Lillard scored or assisted on the final 14 points of the third quarter.  The Blazers ended the third with a 90-82 lead, and then, behind Lillard, started the fourth with a 13-2 run.  Lillard blitzed the Spurs with 14 more points, including a dagger three pointer after the Spurs had cut the lead to 12.  After that the Trail Blazers went wild and absolutely spanked the life out of the Spurs.  The crowd began filing out at about the six-minute mark, and Popovich raised the white flag and dumped his bench moments later.

Lillard became the first rookie to score 35 points, hand out 9 assists, and not commit a single turnover since turnovers became a stat in the 1978-79 season.  He has scored 30 or more three times this season.  All have come on the road, at Golden State, Miami, and San Antonio.  Those teams have combined home records of 73-14.  So, it’s not like he’s padded his numbers against chopped liver.  This dominant 35-point effort came against a legit championship contender.

Oh, by the way, the Trail Blazers, with the win, won the season series from the Spurs 2-1.  For whatever reason, the Blazers have been the one team that has given the Spurs fits in recent years.  They’re now 4-3 in the last 7 games played in Texas, and are 12-5 against the Spurs since ’08-’09.  Lillard, in his three games against the Spurs, scored 20, 29, and 35 points.  He only has 61 NBA games under his belt, remember.

It’s very easy to simply get stuck on Lillard stuff when talking about this game, but he did have a lot of help.  The Blazers, as a team, shot a season-high 62 percent from the field, and were 13 of 21 from three-point land.  They outrebounded the Spurs 38-29, recorded 27 assists and only 10 turnovers, and obviously, the 136 points scored is a season high.

Maynor, as I mentioned, was huge in this game.  What an acquisition this is turning out to be.  He had 20 points in 23 minutes in this game, and takes so much pressure off Lillard when he’s in the game.

Enough about the guards for a moment, because in the first half of this game Portland’s frontline was very, very good.  JJ Hickson picked up his 34th double-double of the season, and really set the tone in the early going.  He gave his team the confidence they could hang with this team, on this court.  Hickson ended with 23 points and 11 rebounds, outplaying Tim Duncan.  LaMarcus Aldridge, who always seems to play well against the Spurs, scored 26 points, on 12 of 18 shooting.

Wesley Matthews, who fought back after spraining his ankle (more on ankles in a minute), was also on the mark in this game.  He hit five of his seven three-point attempts, and was his usual disruptive self on defense.

Now, to the injuries.  We saw three sprained ankles in the span of about 10 minutes in the first half.  Meyers Leonard came down on his right ankle, the same ankle he sprained earlier in the season.  It was scary.  But, from what I understand, this isn’t perhaps as serious as it could have been.  We’ll know more about his availability for Sunday perhaps tomorrow.  Victor Claver’s ankle could be a little worse.  He was in a boot after the game and I actually helped him on to the team bus (because I just happened to be standing by him) after the game. 

Obviously, you never want to see anyone go down with a sprained ankle, especially when it happens to two guys who have been playing so well and working so hard.  But, in a strange way, it kind of felt like the two injuries brought the Blazers together and toughened their resolve.  Lillard agreed with that when I brought that up during our interview.  It gave the team yet another reason to come together and fight.

You can sit and think back on so many games the Blazers have lost, and play the “if only” game.  We did that all the way back to the hotel in San Antonio.  The blown 17-point lead in Memphis immediately comes to mind.  But, as it stands right now, the Trail Blazers don’t feel they are out of this.  The odds are long, but no one has given up on anything.  This is a team that feels it has hit another level, even at this late date.  As long as there’s a possibility, they’ll fight.  Perhaps that’s why this team is so easy to love. 

Even if this late-season rally comes up short, and they miss the playoffs, we’re getting a glimpse at the future.  Lillard, and a 30-point win in San Antonio, certainly make it feel like it’ll happen in the not-so-distant future, and lets us all know the Blazers are on to something.

Now, on to New Orleans. 

23 Comments

  1. Watch Damian go off for 35 points and listen to Mike & Mike call it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GePouc4fy98

    Thanks to Pinwheelempire for making the video.

    by Shem on 3/8/2013 11:27 PM
  2. Thanks for the quick blog Mike. Though I didn't see it, as you said, easy to love this team. Despite the recent struggles or other games we all wish they would have had, gotta love they fight hard. To see it against this great Spurs team, handing them their worst home loss in a long time, just speaks volumes about what this team is capable of. I do hope they try their hardest the rest of the way, no matter what the teams we are chasing do with their games.

    Lillard is a beast, as everyone has been saying. Love that kid! Just plays with no fear - win or lose.

    Tough about the injuries though - Just hope we can get more consistent and hopefully, do a better job of winning games that we "should" despite the chronic issues that people bring up - bench, etc. Though I don't have the time to watch games right now, just from catching highlights, reading your blogs or other post-game news, I can see that they have the heart this team has had the last few years and it's encouraging for the long-run. Just hope they can finish the season strong, come what may.

    by Anees on 3/8/2013 11:40 PM
  3. love this blog, MB. there are some games so horrid i am at a loss as to what to comment. there are some games so competitive, i am able to break down some plays and/or numbers which made the huge difference in the outcome. then, every once in a while, there is a game like this that i'm just speechless. tonight's game was just that.

    obviously, this was our most complete game. forget the tie score at halftime; after all, we were playing the Spurs who came into the game with the league's best record. we didn't just keep the pedal on and win. we floored it, gained speed and forced the Spurs into a crash and burn. i'd even venture to say we played about a 60 minute game even though the game was 48 minutes.

    again, i'm practically speechless. i had said prior to the game that since we match up well against the Spurs, we had a decent shot at this one.

    Damian was amazing in the second half. LaMarcus and JJ were amazing in the first half. Eric ... well, my tweet to Eric included a couple entries of the word "please," "stay" and "next season and beyond." i understand that Olshey is taking this time with Eric to evaluate him. so is Stotts. so are fans. i need no more such time for evaluation. Eric is the real deal and i think he makes Damian better when they are on the court together. his skills really opens up the game for us. after seeing his efforts the past five games, i need no further evaluation. i have all the proof i need.

    my hope is that Meyers and Victor's ankles are going to be all right. we need these guys. at the same time, don't rush them; let them come back when they can. we've got some other guys on the roster who can give us a hand. it does kind of make me wonder how Sasha is doing. we may need him once we get back to portland.

    it almost seems like we say each season that this is the strangest we've seen, but i can't remember another season like this. the ride has been full of elation and anguish. i'm pretty happy today because it's elation.

    ~ KMM

    ps: a friend commented this in the game chat and i thought i'd forward: "it was a great game, unless you are an ankle."

    by Kassandra on 3/9/2013 12:45 AM
  4. now with dame imagine how great the team could have been if broy and GO is still with the team and healthy at the same time

    by tickee on 3/9/2013 1:08 AM
  5. Wow Mike, you and I talked about the perfect quarter a couple of times when we scored 49 point in the first quarter; IMO, the fourth quarter of this game was just as record setting and fantastic; of course that game was with Porter, Clyde, Jerome, Buck and I believe Duckworth and was already established as a elite team. Nevertheless, this game may be a start of an elite club; well actually this club started becoming elite the minute Lillard stepped on the court for the Blazers and like when we added Buck then Duckworth in the past the addition of Maynor Clavor and Leonard really is a start of something very, very special, just mark my word on that. I watched the Blazers from the Get Go, I have seen good teams come and go and this team right at this moment will compare to any of them. Remember the 77 club didn't make the play-offs the year before the championship and struggled early in the championship year because of injuries to Walton. And remember we won the title when Philly had Dr J as Miami has the King. Remember the Championship Blazers had Twardzik as we have Lillard. Saying that Lillard and LaMarcus is like Walton and Twardzik. and that is something special.

    I said a while back, that even if we don't get to the play-offs we could be a spoiler team. This game was a game to keep SAS in first place in the NBA and Recognizing our Military night. and we spoiled both, Not that I am proud of that fact, just pointing out the importance of this game in case anybody thought the SAS was just mailing it in. I listened to the announcers and of course they were highly disappointed, shocked and bewildered by the Blazers. It wasn't as the Spurs played bad, it was just not being able to contain the Blazers. The Spurs half time adjustment was to put more pressure on LaMarcus and JJ. Little did they know the what they would unleash in the new guard duo of Lillard and Maynor. 14 points apiece in the 4th, I hope Houston is paying attention.

    I had said I didn't care what the score was, if SAS lead from start to finish would be OK with me as long as we could make them fight for every score and let them know with Maynor, Victor and Myers we were a new team going forward. I surely wasn't disappointed.

    The SAS Announcers said at the end of the game, that if somebody had told them that Portland would be ahead in the game by 30 late in the game and Batum would only have 2 points they would have thought they were joking. In fact when they said they were going to shut down JJ and LMA at half time I said it was Robin and Batman time. So what happened to Batum?

    I am not saying we are a championship team yet, not even close, but I believe the last few games since the Phoenix and NOH games when Batum, Matthews and Leonard was ailing and acquiring Eric that we have turned the corner in this years play.

    Regardless of what happens from here on out this will be the game to remember.

    by Hg on 3/9/2013 2:35 AM
  6. Sorry Ancientone, have some raspberry ice cream to get through my novel.

    by Hg on 3/9/2013 2:41 AM
  7. Take this opportunity and begin from now to really play well; and when playing well, wins will arrive; no matter if you get to the play-offs this year or not. You´ll be preparing for next year to get to them. But you must begin playing well from now. Do not wait until next season; and also not only versus texan teams, playing well is playing well versus everybody; at any time.

    PS: I do not know what i am doing here as a half-fan of Portland since i do not even know who really are the Portlanders. You might tell me. This is not the only thing i do not know, though; i wish i was told. http://img28.imageshack.us/img28/6779/tmp9044.jpg Society of Spectacle, Woman and Not-movies. Bulls are true ones not Hollywood or Las Vegas fake; in Pamplona in Spain and in Spain in general we play true.

    by Soopadeajo Sopadeajo on 3/10/2013 3:17 AM
  8. Wow! that was an amazing game. I watched it on league Pass and had to listen to the Spurs announcers. They couldn't say enough about Lill, JJ and LA. They were dumbfounded that JJ was putting it to Duncan. Lill was in the zone and eventually pulled us all there with him. Fun to see.

    MB: why does League Pass almost always use the other teams announcers. Even when in Portland, often it is the other teams announcers.

    by allie-oop on 3/9/2013 6:29 AM
  9. Hey Mike,
    I heard you sneak the nickname in during the game. THE GREAT DAME. I haven't heard that before. I like it.
    The kid does everything well. Including interviews.
    The sprained ankles are a setback. We will miss their contributions for the next week or two. One thing is for sure our hearts are healthy.
    It started back in summer league. With a roster full of new faces and new coaches, Wesley went down there and set the tone for this team. If you dress in the same locker room as him you are going to leave it on the floor.
    Our starting six can play with anyone. The next step we will take is consistency.
    It's important we remember the beat down we took in New Orleans. First things first. After that I really want our first home game. Memphis.

    by Divotking on 3/9/2013 8:13 AM
  10. @Hg: wow, did you count my words then add a few to out do me? we already understand that we're in the same camp; play out, play to win every game and what happens with the standings and playoff seedings will take care of themselves. it's funny how you bring up the early 90s team and the championship team of 1976-77. other than from about Cliff Robinson forward to know, those are the two teams about which i've read the most. i really hope we're entering another era such as that.

    @Soop: for myself, i'm from the portland area and attend college at Stanford; the Blazers will always be my team. to answer your question, i'd say a great majority of fans are from the portland area or the state of oregon. i would hesitate to speculate on a percentage of that though. however, there are others who have picked up the Blazers along other lines (perhaps from being a fan of a guy from college who later played for the Blazers, or a myriad of other reasons). as a matter of fact, i happen to know a certain college roommate of mine who is from the l.a. area who is now a Blazers fan. i think you're looking for a mathematical thing, but i doubt it's going to be there.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 3/9/2013 9:07 AM
  11. @ Divotking, I'm not sure if I'd call myself the inventor of the Dame's "THE Great Dame" name but I can say that last yr., I suggested it (hadn't seen any1 use it) & only 1 person responded & said they liked it (others may have liked it but they didn't "say" anything ;) some1 replied w/ ~ "he's already got a nickname that he likes & that's Dame." I felt/feel like "THE Great Dame" is a good nickname; it suits him, "Dame" was his non-pro nickname, now that he's @ the pro/top level, he needs a name that reflects him NOW as a pro (& going forward as 1); "THE Great Dame" is also perfect because it doesn't throw away the nickname that he likes, it enhances it; every other nickname looks to replace "Dame." I think a lot of ppl weren't too receptive @ the time to "THE Great Dame" name because it was too early to give him a nickname that he might not b able to live up to; to those ppl I say, you've now witnessed the BEGINNING of his career... what do u think now?

    by Simpson on 3/9/2013 9:35 AM
  12. Wow is all I can say since Hg and Kassandra said everything else. I agree with Kassandra on Maynor too. Hope we can get him signed.

    by Ancientone on 3/9/2013 9:33 AM
  13. @ Ancientone, signing Maynor IS as important as getting a good defensive starting center. I've said this before & I'll say it again, what we've seen/will c (from now till the end of the season) from Maynor, already we all like/will like BUT, he's not/won't b 100% & hasn't reached his full potential. We've got to sign him in the summer & lock him up for ~ 3yrs for cheap (this summer IS the cheapest we'll b able to get him for) so that he CAN grow to his full potential WITH US (& NOT w/ some1 else).

    by Simpson on 3/9/2013 9:45 AM
  14. Special night. When Pop seen we scored 57 in the first half I expected the 2nd half to be a grind. The opposite. Amazing.
    Everyone wants to talk about officiating when we lose. There were so many bad calls against Portland. We responded like a good team. You don't let the refs decide the game. You take the game. Well done boys.

    by the golden ladder on 3/9/2013 12:17 PM
  15. Hg;
    Guess who our sleeper is now. Batum. Watch for him to start going off. Too many weapons. Portland is a tough draw for any team right now.

    by the golden ladder on 3/9/2013 5:32 PM
  16. MB,

    This is really late, but I just want to say that I'm also speechless. This win is one for the books. Everyone worked their tails off...and dare we say the injury bug days are finally over??? We definitely have enough heart and talent to somehow sneak into the playoffs, and the only question left to answer is...how consistent will it be?

    -Max Milander '14

    by linfieldrunner on 3/9/2013 6:03 PM
  17. I think I need a new computer...or a nap. Oops.

    by linfieldrunner on 3/9/2013 6:08 PM
  18. I agree with my sister. I do not know exactly what to say about this win. It was amazing. My concern is really about our guys with injuries. I know they might be out for a couple of games but I hope their injuries are not too severe and that they heal up fast. I really like how Claver and Leonard have been playing lately. I would really like to see more of it.

    by Angi on 3/10/2013 12:29 PM
  19. Under a minute to play, not quite sure why Batum pulled the trigger early in the shot clock.

    by Divotking on 3/11/2013 7:05 PM
  20. @Divotking: I wondered about that too. Frustration maybe? He's been the forgotten man in our offense lately, not nearly as many touches as he was getting when he was posting 7+ assists per game. Both Lillard and Maynor prefer to move the ball to LA's side of the court far more often than to Nic's side.
    --
    don

    by dgpdx on 3/11/2013 11:24 PM
  21. Don;
    I hadn't thought of the possibility of frustration. I did notice him hiding in the corner a little more often. LMA must get his touches. Damian is the playmaker. JJ is getting a couple extra touches a game, not all garbage put backs. Maybe we could run the first play of the game for Nic. Remember in the Nate days. First play of the game was almost always a Batum three.

    by Divotking on 3/12/2013 7:35 AM
  22. Waited in vain for new blog so I'll say it here. Two clothes pins against the Hornets. No defense until the second half (sound familiar?), and out rebounded by 18. 18 you aren't gong to win doing that. As Moses Malone used to say rebounds depend on who wants them the most. Apparently we don't care much.

    by Ancientone on 3/12/2013 9:06 AM
  23. Ancientone;
    Even the infamous Mr. Barrett couldn't find a positive spin to this game.
    I've been keeping track of Mike and Mike's minutes. Besides TNT games they have worked every game. All 48 minutes including overtime periods. With no bench players in reserve. Weary legs I suppose. Have they hit the wall? No. They will be suited up tonight.
    Lets get this tonight. Memphis is hot. It stops right here.
    GO BLAZERS!!

    by Divotking on 3/12/2013 2:57 PM
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