Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageNBA: Spurs slide goes to four, lose to Portland

By Lynn Herrmann     Mar 29, 2011 in Sports
San Antonio - For the fourth game in a row, San Antonio blew a fourth quarter lead and on Monday against Portland watched the noose on home-court advantage in the playoffs get a bit tighter, falling 100-92, with four starters watching the game in street clothes.
With the Spurs’ Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili out with injuries, head coach Gregg Popovich went searching for an answer to the team’s bitterly disappointing three-game road trip, finding it by keeping starting point guard Tony Parker and center Antonio McDyess out of the game, listed as having a left patella contusion and lower back contusion, respectively.
Maintaining his recent trend in coaching strategy, Popovich on Monday opted to rest key players during a critical stretch of the season, and with the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs continuing to remain in the balance, as well as home court advantage in a possible league championship series, let bench players become starters.
As Popovich stated before the game, “Money time is approaching with the playoffs,” MySA reports.
The game’s outcome was almost predictable even before the opening tipoff, as Popovich certainly caught the NBA off guard in announcing that Parker and McDyess would join the Spurs rapidly expanding injured list that already included Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.
The good news to be gathered from the Spurs recent misery is that all four starters are expected to be ready to go on Thursday when they host the Boston Celtics in a rematch of two teams that produced one of the league’s classic games earlier this season.
On Monday, however, Portland came to town with a 42-31 record, fighting for the Western Conference six-seed in the upcoming playoffs, and was determined to win the game, no matter who the Spurs put on the floor.
Although Spurs coaching staff after the game said the new-look Spurs gave a gutty performance, the reality is that coming into the match-up, the team had a four-game lead over Western Conference opponents and, unlike the rest of the NBA’s playoff-bound teams, were afforded the luxury of being able to go without key players, win or lose.
A Rudy Fernandez 3-pointer at the 6:54 mark of the second quarter gave the Trail Blazers their largest lead of the game, 43-34. The rest of the half saw Portland comfortably in control, as the two teams matched baskets until a George Hill crossover layup cut the lead to 58-51 going into intermission.
Hill, picking up where he left off the night before against Memphis when he matched a career-high 30 points, led the the Spurs first-half scoring with 17 points.
Portland had three players in double figures by halftime, with Andre Miller scoring 12, Gerald Wallace had 11 points and Wesley Matthews added 10.
For the sellout home crowd, the second half was at least entertaining, even if they had to watch Parker, Duncan, Ginobili and McDyess performing their new role in street clothes as team cheerleaders. The Spurs kept the game respectable, and took the lead on a Danny Green 3-pointer, 68-67. It was their first lead of the game, and the crowd responded appropriately, cranking the noise up to a deafening level.
Feeding off that energy, coming back down on defense, Green stole the ball, tipping it to Steve Novak who then passed back to Green, streaking for a slam dunk to put the Spurs up 70-67. The already loud crowd then exploded and the Spurs took a 72-67 lead going into the fourth after Gary Neal added a basket to the spurt.
Neal then opened the fourth with a big 3-pointer, giving the Spurs their largest lead of the game, 75-67, and many fans were probably thinking the unthinkable.
Portland’s Fernandez drained a trey that had little effect on the crowd, because seconds later DeJuan Blair delivered a two-handed slam to keep the Spurs up, 77-70.
When Neal hit another 3-pointer to give the Spurs an 80-72 lead, the crowd began surging, but the reality was that far too much time remained on the game clock.
In light of the situation, the Blazers went to work, methodically chipping away at the Spurs lead, and thanks to ongoing questionable officiating in calls and missed calls that all worked against the Spurs favor, eventually retook the lead.
The Blazers’ Nicolas Batum, the hero of the earlier match-up between the two teams last Friday, got lucky on his second foot shuffle of the second half, both times ignored by the officials, to give Portland an 84-81 lead and sending them on their way to the victory.
More about San antonio spurs, Portland trail blazers, western conference, NBA, Nba playoffs
More news from
Sports Video
Latest News
Top News