Road Review: Not Quite Enough In San Antonio
By sarahhecht Posted in: Blazers
As the team heads out on the road
I’ll share my thoughts on the highs and lows of each quarter and their
importance to the game, team and season going forward. Let’s discuss!
SAN ANTONIO 99, PORTLAND 83
Loved: Coming out strong, forcing turnovers
The Trail Blazers did exactly what they needed to in the first quarter of the first game of the first major road trip. They came out strong.
Portland got it started on the defensive end by getting their hands in everybody’s business, mixing it up and forcing turnovers. The bright spots in the first were plentiful: fast breaks, drawing early fouls on Tim Duncan, quick hands and Raymond Felton. He shot 4-of-5, had three steals and dished three dimes. Bit of a make-up game for Ray Ray.
Overall, this was a fun quarter to watch.
Loathed: Giving back TOs
As much as I loved forcing the Spurs into ten turnovers for 13 points, my enthusiasm for the stat was dampened by our 6 turnovers. Tempo was a major factor in the slight lack of ball control, but nonetheless, taking care of the rock is key.
Loved: Wesley Matthews, solid run to end to the half
Mr. Matthews was the talk of the town in the second. He played every minute, hit his first field goal of the game and shot 5-of-8 for 12 points. The Trail Blazers lost the scoring battle in the quarter 23-16. But without Matthews and a solid run to end the half, Portland wouldn’t have been in a much more uncomfortable position after two.
Loathed: Bench scoring, three-point shooting
The Portland bench scored two points. Two. San Antonio’s bench scored 19. That’s a deal breaker in the NBA. The bench absolutely has to produce, two points won’t cut it, ever. The Spurs shot 47 percent on the quarter to Portland’s 27 percent. Another demonstration of the unbalanced performance of the second.
Loved: Dimes to LaMarcus
My favorite part of the entire game was in the first few minutes of the third. Felton dished a wicked pass to LaMarcus Aldridge inside and he easily finished at the rim. Within the next few minutes Gerald Wallace had a similar assist with another tight dime in the lane for an Aldridge finish. So pretty. Watching plays like that I can’t help but stare at the TV in awe and thank the basketball Gods for such sweet moments.
Loathed: Inability to take advantage of San Antonio’s cold shooting
This is when the Trail Blazers lost it. San Antonio went cold from the floor and instead of taking advantage, Portland followed suit. Failing to open a lead when opportunity knocked proved perilous in the fourth when they couldn’t weather the run by the Spurs.
Loathed: Spurs breaking it open
San Antonio went on a 14-0 run at the beginning of the quarter. That coupled with Trail Blazers missing free throws, giving up easy layups to the Spurs and Aldridge getting a fifth personal foul with six minutes left in the game was the recipe for unravelling.
These late mistakes cost Portland a shot at the win.
I’m not losing my mind over this one. The Spurs are the toughest team Portland will face on this road trip. With 3-3 being a satisfactory outcome, dropping the first in San Antonio isn’t as big of a deal as one might think.
Putting the loss aside, my major take-away from tonight was the strong start for the Trail Blazers. The guys played good ball through three quarters, the change coming right around the time Aldridge left the game with his fourth personal foul.
It wasn’t until that point, with a lack of a go-to guy on offense, that shot selection got ugly and the Trail Blazers faltered.
Even though the first game didn’t go our way, it wasn’t a disaster.
What stood out to you tonight?