Portland Trail Blazers – Making the Champions Suffer a Little Bit More

Trouble for the Spurs

While it’s never smart to discount the San Antonio Spurs, their losing streak, now extending to four games after a 111-95 beating at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers and especially Wesley Matthews, is not just a cause for concern among the defending NBA champions, but possibly even something worth panicking about.

Like the form Tony Parker is in. He had a solid start to this month but has scored a total of nine points in the last three games. Manu Ginobili is doing terribly as well, scoring just 18 points over the last three games, and like Parker, was held to just two points in this one. Tim Duncan on his own carried the team’s offense through most of the first quarter, while his teammates went 0-for-7 until Ginobili scored with 5:01 left in the first.

The Blazers opened up a 32-16 lead in the first quarter only to give it up in the second. However, their 60 second half points seemed to be way too much for a Spurs team that’s looking nothing like the version we’re used to seeing this time of year, which includes dominating their rodeo trip (2-5 so far this time, their first time to finish with a losing record in it). The Blazers in the meantime looked every bit like the team that started the season 30-8 (they’re only 37-19 right now) and were ranked third in both defensive and offensive efficiency.

Tim Duncan finished with 20 points, but only six came in the second half. The Blazers managed to split off in the third quarter but the Spurs fought back in the fourth to trim the lead down to four points. However, the Blazers often seem like a team that completely rely on the hot hand, and whether or not their 3-point shot is falling or not on the day. This time, making 50% of their attempts from long range, it was working fine.

So despite the 5-of-19 day for LaMarcus Aldridge from the field, there was enough firepower to make up for his misses. Matthews led the team with 31 points, Damian Lillard scored 18 points and Nicolas Batum, averaging only 9.2 points per game this season, finally had himself a solid offensive performance, scoring 15 points and adding 9 assists. An offensive awakening from him is something the Blazers sorely need  in this final stretch of the regular season.

So while the Blazers are hoping that this win can get them out of their rough patch and start winning at an accelerated pace again, the Spurs have other concerns. Sure, March is just around the corner, but things don’t magically happen. Their stars aren’t resting, their offense is slumping and simply put, something just isn’t working for a team that has dug a huge hole for itself concerning a good seed with home court advantage as well. Fall down a bit further, and maybe their playoff spot will actually be in danger.

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