ChrisHaynes, CSNNW.com NBA & Trail Blazers Insider
ThePortland Trail Blazers were this close to making it eight consecutivetimes they have beaten the San Antonio Spurs in Portland, but theSpurs decided to go on a 14-0 run to start the fourth quarter andthat ultimately carried them to a 112-109 victory.
Withthe Spurs (7-1) up 111-109 with 12 seconds left in the game, the TrailBlazers (2-4) designed a play for Nicolas Batum to come off of a curlscreen and make a play. Batum got a clean look and took athree-pointer that hit the back iron.
Infact, the look was so clean that he could have attempted a drive, buthe instead went for the win. The Trail Blazers would have anotheropportunity to at least tie the game, but without a timeout, adesperation three by LaMarcus Aldridge was all they could get.
Rightafter the game, I looked at the replay and I should have drove to thebasket or took a closer shot, Batum said. When I saw what goodscreens they set, I had it in my mind I was taking the three. Ishouldn't have.
Batumsaid around the eight minute mark in the fourth, he told head coachTerry Stotts that he wanted the ball and 13 of Batum's game-high 33points came in that quarter.
Itold him, 'give me the ball coach and let me make a play' and hedid, Batum said.
Thismakes five out of six games where a team has shot over 50 percent onthe Trail Blazers. Tonight, the Spurs were at 57 percent and to topthat off, the Spurs bench outscored the Blazers 63-4.
WhenStotts was asked if he can go any longer with a lack of productionfrom his reserves, he dismissed it as a concern.
I'mmore concerned about what happens on the court when they're in thegame than actual numbers, points, rebounds, Stotts said. Like Isaid, the bench was a positive in the first half and we had a badstretch, a horrible stretch and obviously we scored enough points towin. It's not about bench production, we scored points.
Beforetonight's game, when Damian Lillard outscored his opponent, the TrailBlazers were 2-0 and you would have thought the Trail Blazers'chances were great with Tony Parker sitting out with flu-likesymptoms.
PattyMills got the start in his place and Lillard won that battle 20points to Mills' 7 points. Still, no win.
Lillardis the fourth player since 1985 to record 100 points and 40 assistsin their first six career games. Washington's John Wall, Miami'sLeBron James, and former NBA player Damon Stoudamire are the otherthree.
Aldridgehad 31 points and J.J. Hickson had a double-double 13 points and14 rebounds.
Therewas a scary moment with 8:30 remaining in the third quarter whenWesley Matthews went down awkwardly after a blocked layup attempt.Turns out, he hurt his lower back on the play. He said he couldn'tmove when it first happened and says his back is a little stiff. Hedoesn't expect to miss anytime.
TheTrail Blazers will finish out this three-game home-stand Mondayagainst the Atlanta Hawks.