Chances are, Matt Bonner is looking up to see a scoreboard that signifies another San Antonio Spurs loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Since when did the tables turn and Portland become the dominate of the two teams? About six games ago. The Blazers have won five of the last six, and four in a row, against the Spurs. Previous to that, the Spurs won 'em all. 12 in a row, in fact.
We all know that the majority of the San Antonio roster makes Juwan Howard look like a baby-faced rookie, but when their dusty bones meet the fresh legs of Portland, they look really old. Despite the multiple rings, in the past half-dozen games against Portland, the Spurs are the NBA equivalent of the old war vet gumming a Werther's Original and regaling everyone with tales of Bruce Bowen walking barefoot in the snow (both ways!) to the NBA finals with Kevin Willis on his back.
This isn't to imply that the Spurs are spent. No sir. As long as Tim Duncan can knock down bank shots, Manu Ginobili can be the original Rudy Fernandez, Tony Parker can rap, some random role player can hit three pointers in the clutch (oh, let's say Roger Mason), and Gregg Popovich can utilize underappreciated young players (George Hill), the Spurs will be contenders. Like Portland, they are on the second night of a back-to-back, narrowly escaping with a victory in Sacramento. But if you think the Spurs will be winded, check out the boxscore. Richard Jefferson and Hill logged series minutes, but the core of Duncan and Ginobili saw less than 30 minutes of court time. Oh, and Parker—who has missed his last three games with a bum ankle—should return tonight.
With the Brandon Roy return countdown on its final game, tonight would be an ideal time for Portland to come away with a home court victory before Kobe and company come rolling through town on Saturday. If that is not enough motivation, how about this: The Blazers are currently behind Oklahoma City in the playoff hunt, and just a pair of games from the 11th spot.