http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/303216

NBA: Spurs’ Rodeo Road Trip starts with a thud in Portland

Posted Feb 2, 2011 by Lynn Herrmann
The San Antonio Spurs launched their annual Rodeo Road Trip with a stop at the Rose Garden in Portland on Tuesday night and by game’s end suffered missed free throws, cold shooting and a career night by LaMarcus Aldridge, losing to the Blazers, 99-86.
The San Antonio Spurs  struggles in recent years at Portland s Rose Garden arena continued on Tuesda...
The San Antonio Spurs' struggles in recent years at Portland's Rose Garden arena continued on Tuesday night, with a loss to the Trail Blazers.
amber10_79
A rash of injuries has decimated the Trail Blazers this season, including knee injuries to Brandon Roy, Marcus Camby and Greg Oden. Pre-season expectations for the team have been dashed as they struggled for an eighth-seed with a 25-22 record, but Tuesday’s game showed that on any given night, even the best will fall.
San Antonio, a combined 44-20 on nine previous Rodeo Road Trips, has had its problems on the Blazers’ home court, coming into the game having lost four straight at the Rose Garden. This was a different Spurs team, however, with three rookies and two second-year stars on the roster helping carry the load. For San Antonio, 5th in the league in scoring, they have had eight different players lead the team in scoring this season.
Portland came into the matchup last in the league in defensive rebounding and the Spurs first possession of the game showed why. San Antonio missed four shots on that possession, rebounding each miss before DeJuan Blair made the game’s first bucket.
The Trail Blazers missed their first five shots before Andre Miller scored the team’s first basket at 7:55 in the quarter and trailed the Spurs, 9-2.
Neither team shot very well until midway through the second quarter. Portland began heating up, taking a 37-35 lead on a LaMarcus Aldridge jumper with six minutes to go before the half. The Blazers took a timeout, trailing 39-37 but were unable to stop San Antonio, who ended up on a 15-4 run, taking a 50-41 lead, their largest of the game. Portland battled back though, trailing by five, 52-47, at the intermission.
Blair had a monster first half, scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds to lead the Spurs. For the Blazers, Aldridge had 18 points. The difference in the first half was rebounding and the Spurs had a huge lead, 26-15.
Portland took its first lead of the second half, 58-57, on a Wesley Matthews jumper. The game see-sawed for most of the third quarter, with neither team able to mount more than a four-point lead. Blair picked up his fourth foul at the 2:00 mark of the third and went to the bench.
The Spurs hit a cold spell late in the third, missing 6 of 9 shots before Manu Ginobili hit a trey with two seconds left to tie the game at 71 going into the final frame.
The see-saw act continued into the fourth quarter and at the 7:00 mark, Portland went up by four, 72-68, forcing Spurs coach Gregg Popovich into a timeout. That timeout did little to help the team, as the Spurs remained flat.
Portland’s sell-out home crowd of 20,364 started rallying the Blazers and a six-point lead ensued, 84-78, with 5:35 left in the game. The Spurs continued playing snake-bit ball, and Portland went up 90-80 on an Aldridge basket with just over three minutes to play.
San Antonio had a chance for a run but failed to execute properly, committing four turnovers in the final period along with sloppy defense, helping add to Portland’s momentum that carried them to the final buzzer and a 99-86 victory. The Blazers improved to 26-22 while dropping the Spurs record to 40-8.
For one of the few times this season, San Antonio was on the receiving end of a well-balanced scoring attack as the Blazers’ Aldridge had a career night with 40 points and 11 rebounds. Matthews had 21 points and Miller added 18 points.
Aldridge called the win the biggest game of the season for Portland. "It has to be. This is the best team in the league. This is big for us," according to MySanAntonio.
Ginobili led the Spurs with 17 points on 18 shot attempts. Duncan added a quiet 15 points and seven boards. Blair’s 14 points came in the first half, adding one rebound to his halftime numbers for a total of 12. Richard Jefferson and George Hill each scored 10.
Next stop on the Rodeo Road Trip is the Staples Center for a huge Western Conference showdown with the second-place Lakers who are wrapped in the veil of trade rumors, or motivational speeches. Pick one.