Snakes alive! Spurs squeeze Blazers

By Fran Blinebury, NBA.com

VIDEO: Spurs stifle Blazers in Game 2

SAN ANTONIO – It was the middle of the second quarter and the Blazers’ biggest offensive weapon had finally found a clear path to the basket.

LaMarcus Aldridge slammed his dunk attempt off the back iron.

On the next trip down the floor, Aldridge took another feed, had another open path to the hoop.

And clanked another dunk.

Snakes in the Portland locker room. Snakes on the rim.

When the Blazers eventually slithered out of the AT&T Center on the wrong end of another clubbing, they probably didn’t feel bitten by a viper as much as squeezed breathless by a powerful boa constrictor.

Aldridge can’t find room to move in the low post. Damian Lillard can’t find enough opportunities to work his shimmy-shake magic. Wes Matthews can’t find anything to do except toss up his arms in frustration and plead his case to referees. The numbers on a map say it’s just 200 miles between Houston and San Antonio, but the Blazers have discovered the brand of basketball might as well come from opposite sides of the planet.

In the first round of the playoffs, the Rockets’ played one-on-one. Now the Spurs play all-as-one.

In the first round, the Rockets played with frantic, nervous energy. Now the Spurs play with the quiet, deadly hum of high voltage power lines.

In the first round, the Rockets often treated the fourth quarters and the final minutes of games as something to give away. “Here, take this.” Now the Spurs treat the opening quarters of games as time to simply smack the Blazers and bloody their noses. “Here, take that.”

At this rate their stock is dropping faster than Johnny Football’s. Maybe even the Cleveland Browns wouldn’t take a gamble on the Blazers.

For a Portland team that just four days ago was still celebrating the first playoff series win for the franchise in 14 years, this has been a step up in class like going from kindergarten to quantum mechanics. While Houston poked and prodded and tweaked and adjusted a defensive plan to try to turn down the heat from the boiling concoction that was Aldridge, the Spurs have turned to Tiago Splitter and told him to be the lid on the pot. He bumps Aldridge. He grinds Aldridge. He bangs Aldridge. He flusters Aldridge. And then Splitter gets help in close to the basket from Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard and anybody else who just feels like taking a swipe or throwing shoulder.

“I missed two dunks and four or five layups,” Aldridge said after a 6-for-23 shooting night and just 16 points. “If those shots go in, then the whole game is different.”

And if pigs had wings, it would be tougher for us to catch that bacon.

It’s never a good thing when coach Terry Stotts is pointing out the highlights of not giving up any fast break points and holding the other guys to just 44 points in the second half. Not when his team gave up 70 points and trailed by 19 at halftime.

On one hand, all the Spurs have done is held the home-court advantage as they now head out to Portland. On the other hand, the Blazers have held the lead for a grand total of 16 seconds in two entire games of playoff basketball.

These are not the Spurs who looked disinterested and disjointed through the first six games against Dallas in the previous round. Now they are back to rolling up and down the court like a road grader, flattening anything in their path. Their deepest-in-the-NBA bench is back. So is their swagger. Manu Ginobili throwing football-style touchdown passes to Leonard on the break. Boris Diaw doing the Jell-O roll through the paint to drop in the kind of shot that was so tasty it made you want to lick the spoon.

These are not the Blazers who looked like the poised ones down the stretch against the discombobulated Rockets.

“No panic,” said the Blazers’ Nicolas Batum. “We know we’ve done bad the last two games.”

On the bright side, nobody was bitten.

20 Comments

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  2. 210 says:

    This is the most enjoyable article i have ever read on this site! LOVE IT!

  3. mee(a)t says:

    I wouldn’t get so excited if I was a spurs fan….blazers are probably the worst defensive teams in the league so yeah the spurs beautiful offense is gonna glow.

  4. Sonny says:

    This was the best article i’ve ever read on this page . Funny and interesting lol, GO BLAZERS!

  5. en. says:

    Htown rocket fan here…San antonio will destroy the blazers….the Rockets took home court for granted and didnt capatalize on it…it is what it is were out thanks to lillards LUCKY shot otherwise if they woulda came back to houston it woulda been over for them they kno…….go spurs. DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS!

    • Queirós says:

      There’s no such thing as luck when you acknowledge your team took something for granted…

  6. Jeff says:

    Jesus, for someone who has been covering the NBA longer than James Harden’s been alive you are a truly awful writer.

  7. TheKush says:

    The Blazers look like they don’t know how the spurs are beating them so bad. If Indiana had better coaching they probably would be up 2 – 0 also. The Blazers run a tight rotation they really don’t have much of a bench and Pop keeps throwing out fresh body after fresh body to guard the three point line. Pop’s a genius the only team I think can beat the spurs in the playoffs is OKC because in that series a guy like Westbrook would feast on the spurs style of play because he plays so hard and so fast. Being that the Blazers really are a jump shooting team they’re easy to guard. The only reason in my opinion Houston lost to the Blazers was JAMES HARDENS lack of defense. The whole season James Harden didn’t play defense because he had Howard backing him up but in the playoffs when teams can key in on your deficiencies James Harden got exposed. This won’t happen with the spurs because Pop will bench you if you’re not playing defense. Blazers need game three but I just can’t see them winning 2 games in a row if they play their normal style. At least two guys on the Blazers will have to get hot and stay hot from three point line that’s the only way I see them winning this series. Every championship team has a good bench the Blazers in the offseason must correct this issue.

    • Ray says:

      I don’t think OKC or Westbrook’s gonna go easy with the Spurs in a series. You know how well this team adjust to different styles of play. They drubbed Dallas in their finale and their continuing to do the same to Portland. OKC don’t have the bench depth like the Spurs have. Spurs only have to shut down KD and RW, and dare others to score. RW will be matched with TP but don’t rely on Green and the others not to take a swipe at him when he drives the lane, and TD and Thiago will be waiting at the rim. Spurs don’t do defense on a one-on-one basis. Their too smart not to realize that their team is not gifted physically. They can’t out run Russel, but with a collective effort, i would bet RW to take more of those ill-advised jumpshots. They will be giving him space to do that. While KD will be pestered by Kawhi and Boris and some help from the others. The key for OKC is for the others to step up against the best bench in the NBA. If they have that, then it’ll be a long series. But I still have that series going to the Spurs, Clips gonna win against OKC. Like the Spurs, their Bench is as deep.

  8. Ogost says:

    This is one of the best articles I’ve ever read in this website.
    “Now the Spurs play with the quiet, deadly hum of high voltage power lines.” So true, so beautiful… poetry.
    Poetry, like the Spurs’ game.
    Beautiful, like watching my fellow argentinian (pride of our nation’s sports) Manu Ginobili throwing dimes and penetrating the paint.
    True, like “old man river” Tim Duncan guard the rim and anchoring the defence.
    I’ve said it before, and I say it again: If the Spurs keep playing like this, no one will be able to beat them in a 7 game series. Not even those guys from Florida…

  9. Let’s GO SPURS! A sweep would be nice to give our players some rest. But we shouldn’t be overconfident because Lillard and Aldridge is due for an explosion.

  10. theholyspectator says:

    blazers are too young and not deep enough…woulda been nice to see blazers move on but when your playing a team with guys who have multiple rings and a coach who about business, its almost impossible..this looks like a sweep

  11. Paul&Jack says:

    Kobe was in that locker room to help the Blazers… They didn’t catch it.

  12. Steph says:

    Great article ! Go Spurs for 2014 Champs !

  13. Big Al says:

    This is exactly why i would have wanted the Rockets to win. They could have genuinely given the Spurs a run for their money, perhaps even beat them. But it’s an awful reality for them to have to lose to a team that’s only good for one playoff round. I expected the Blazers to have at least one lackluster performance like this during the Houston series, but strangely and unfortunately, it didn’t. This is just gonna be lousy; a sweep is indeed imminent.

    Jackson gets fired for surprisingly getting his depleted lineup to a Game 7, among other great things, but McHale is retained for losing a series that could and should have been won. Go figure.

    • Totally agree. Exactly why I was hoping for the Rockets in the next round instead of Blazers. Unfortunately Damien messed it up with that buzzer beater. I’m not so sure if Blazers would have won a game 7 too!

      Anyway I smell a sweep or 4-1 for Spurs. Now people can see the difference between a team that has a solid bench and a team that has not! When Aldrigde & Lillard struggle there is not much left for Portland. While Pop can go for Mills, Ginobli, Diaw and Bellinelli….Who is Portland gonna call? The ghostbusters??

      I really don’t like Spurs basketball, but Blazers are done if you ask me. Hope they have a better bench next season.

  14. Pop says:

    Spittin’ Venom Mr. Blinebury. You aren’t wrong though, the Blazers look outmatched. Hopefully they can get on track at home and make a series of it.

  15. Larry says:

    this is the spurs showing supremacy… this is our year… we gonna take it all… spurs champion…

  16. Icantthinkofaname says:

    I’m sure Spurs remember 2 years ago when Thunder took next 4 games after Spurs went up 2-0 on them, so they have to keep up the pace on the road.