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Portland more than snake bit, Spurs defense fuels offense and 2-0 series lead

May 9, 2014, 12:56 AM EDT

Tim Duncan, Tony Parker Tim Duncan, Tony Parker

The Trail Blazers were snake bit from the start — almost literally. When the Trail Blazers got to the AT&T Center there was a rattlesnake in Thomas Robinson’s locker, causing some grown men to freak out.

It didn’t get a whole lot better when the game tipped off.

Oh, the Trail Blazers hung close for a quarter, but the Spurs scored 41 points in the second quarter — they did it pushing the ball in transition, they did it moving the ball to the open man, they did it knocking down threes.

It was a 19-point game at the half, and when the Spurs took their foot off the gas in the fourth and the Blazers cut the lead to 8, the Spurs responded with an 11-2 run and put it away quickly.

San Antonio went on to win comfortably 114-97. Seven Spurs were in double figures as it was a vintage Spurs team win.

The Spurs are now up 2-0 and in complete control of the series. Portland should make things more interesting heading back to Rip City for Game 3 Saturday night, but it’s nearly impossible to picture them winning 4-of-5 from the Spurs, which is the task before them now.

For the Spurs, it starts on the defensive end — and it’s really starting with Tiago Splitter. As he did with Dirk Nowitzki the series before, Splitter is making life difficult for LaMarcus Aldridge. The Blazers All-Star power forward finished with 16 points on 6-of-23 shooting, and you can thank Splitter for that.

Being able to single-cover Aldridge lets the Spurs defenders stay home on three-point shooters — the Blazers have gotten fewer good looks from beyond they arc then they want.

That defense from the Spurs leads to a lot of good looks for the Spurs in transition — by design they like to get Tony Parker the ball off a miss and let him push the ball up the court, break down the defense before it gets set and get a good look. That worked well. The Spurs had 17 fast break points in the first half, by the Blazers’ count the Spurs had 32 points in transition plus offensive rebounds — and that’s just the first half.

San Antonio went on an 18-2 run early in the second quarter and the game was basically over from there. The Spurs up were 70-51 at half, having shot 58 percent overall plus knocking down 7-of-10 from three.

For the game Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting (4-of-4 from three), but this was a team win not an individual one. A balanced win. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili each had 16 points (and both seemed to live in the paint again), Marco Belinelli had 13, Boris Diaw 12, Tim Duncan and Splitter each had 10.

The Blazers were led by Nicolas Batum, who had 21 points. Damian Lillard had 19 points but needed 20 shots to get it, plus he was just 1-of-6 from three. The Spurs are chasing him off the line.

Giver the Blazers credit, they would not just roll over. They made a fourth quarter run, they got some stops and with Splitter resting and Diaw on LaMarcus Aldridge. Quickly the lead was 9, then 8. Then…

Then the Spurs flipped the switch again, went on an 11-2 run and ended it.

The series shifts back to Portland and the fans there are going to be loud. Expect the Blazers to make shots. Expect there to be no snakes anywhere near the locker room.

Also expect that may well not be enough.

  1. ranfan12 - May 9, 2014 at 1:05 AM

    Spurs are ready for a finals rematch.

    • fanofthegame79 - May 9, 2014 at 8:08 AM

      So are the Heat.

      • savvybynature - May 9, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        The East is possibly the worst conference in the history of the NBA this year, and the statistics back that up.
        Hard to tell anything about anyone in the East until they actually play a good team, which won’t happen until the Finals.

      • fanofthegame79 - May 9, 2014 at 2:40 PM

        That’s a hard line to take. How bad will it look when the best team from the worst conference beats the best team from the best conference?

  2. the1nonlyk - May 9, 2014 at 1:46 AM

    ps kawhi my man
    pps whats that u say charles u forgot about all of those great players on the bench like diaw bellinelli patty cuz i know u remember ginooooobbbbiiilllliiiii. still think portlands gonna win? hope u didnt make a wager haha lol

    • apkyletexas - May 9, 2014 at 1:52 AM

      Kawhi is just flying around like a demon. Incredible. His defense has to be among the best in the league at this point.

      • the1nonlyk - May 9, 2014 at 2:01 AM

        agreed he had 2 steals n 2 blocks n caused all kinds of problems i jut heard him called the claw cuz of his huge hands n yet his style is so smooth he makes it look so easy. splitter has also greatly improved his defense

    • sportsfan18 - May 9, 2014 at 11:58 AM

      Kawhi has really turned out to be good and will get better still.

      Also, Tiago Splitter is finally making meaningful contributions. For awhile I thought he wasn’t going to pan out. It took him awhile, but he belongs. He won’t ever be a Duncan, but he has value and is able to contribute now.

  3. antistratfordian - May 9, 2014 at 1:50 AM

    Portland is not a good enough defensive team, and on top of that they’re very inexperienced. Not this year.

    • fanofthegame79 - May 9, 2014 at 8:09 AM

      I said it after game 1, this was going to be a series to learn for the Trailblazers.

    • bucrightoff - May 9, 2014 at 9:26 AM

      This series reminds me of the Spurs-Clippers a couple years ago. The Clippers were getting hyped up and subsequently got swept, but it’s an important learning experience. The Spurs are as playoff tested as it gets and it will be good for a young team to experience this, even if it doesn’t seem like it right now.

  4. kb2408 - May 9, 2014 at 5:03 AM

    Chalk another one up for ol’ kb…I think I said the Spurs are not Houston, meaning the Spurs play defense. The whole team not just 2 or 3 players. The teams will split the two games in Portland, then the Spurs come back home and end it in 5.

    • billtetley53 - May 9, 2014 at 8:19 AM

      I didnt think you coyld be more annoying than when the lakers were still a viable contender, but I was wrong. Your online personality is just unbearable. Predicting the Spurs to win the series isnt exactly rocket surgery. Why dont you just go into hibernation until the draft?

      I cannot fathom how in your offline life, that you are not a punching bag to others.
      Do you get knocked out on a daily basis? If not, you should.

      • john242322 - May 9, 2014 at 11:13 AM

        rockets’ need surgery?? interesting…

        Could’ve sworn the term was rocket science…

      • bigmeechy74 - May 9, 2014 at 12:03 PM

        Yeah. Predicting the spurs isn’t exactly rocket surgery… wait…. huh?

      • antistratfordian - May 9, 2014 at 2:40 PM

        @john242322 – rocket surgery is fusion of rocket science and brain surgery i.e. the most challenging and precarious procedure a human can engage in. An attempt at rocket surgery is what paralyzed Stephen Hawking.

  5. billtetley53 - May 9, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Yeah John, its a play on words.

    • savvybynature - May 9, 2014 at 12:05 PM

      A play on words? Or a complete misuse of words?

  6. bigmeechy74 - May 9, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    It’s a shame lillard made that shot. At least Hou/SA would’ve been entertaining. This is awful

    • the1nonlyk - May 9, 2014 at 1:02 PM

      i guess its awful if u dont like watchin a high caliber “old” team schoolin some younguns but not every matchup is gonna be down to the wire. u must not really like basketball tho if u cant find somethin to like about the game because spurs are playin team ball at its finest guys r steppin up n workin together to get it done. guess ud rather watch some “star” rise up above the rest even if its for one game then a real great team play so maybe u should b watching an individual sport instead like boxin

      • bigmeechy74 - May 9, 2014 at 5:05 PM

        Um… I would like a competitive series. Not a blowout. I guess I’m weird like that.

  7. billtetley53 - May 9, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    Ugh, that i have to post a link to show you what Im saying isvutterly ridiculous, but there it is.

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