SPURS 103 – TRAIL BLAZERS 90: BAD TRIP

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LaMarcus’s X-rays were negative (for fractures, that’s positive) but he is also rolling around in a wheelchair which is bad. He took an ugly fall on his back/ass area at the beginning of the third quarter and stayed down long enough that ESPN felt like it would be appropriate to cut to commercial. He will probably be out for a bit. He will definitely feel like shit in the morning.

Aldridge falling down is bad, but it’s a different kind of bad than the Blazers’ current season-long 4-game losing streak, so I don’t want to say something like “It’s been that kind of trip!” Aldridge’s heath is not a part of the overall narrative of the season, it’s his bones and muscles and pain and livelihood. The sort of trip that it has been was on display in the actual play on the court tonight which was not great.

There are, to my mind, two ways to think about this particular loss in context. The first is to say, “The Blazers are on a losing streak and they NEEDED to put the streak to an end, no matter what!” The second is to say, “It’s a back to back, the Spurs are a tremendous team that is playing with a full squad, and it’s the sort of game any team would lose.” The first is a construction based on assumptions about the character of people who you don’t really know, the second is a list of real life reasons why the Blazers loss, so I would hope someone would consider the second.

The Blazers were looking pretty sluggish and out of sorts in the beginning of the game. Wes Matthews, the primary beneficiary of good Blazers ball movement, took two shots and no threes in the first half. The Spurs intercepted some lazy passes and were going a good job shutting down the Blazers’ ball movement. Lillard had 3 assists in the game. The Spurs’ overall field percentage wasn’t so bad for the Blazer defense, 45%, but Danny Green and the other of the Spurs’ long-gunning-killers made 11 3-pointers on 45% shooting. Danny Green, the Wes Matthews of the Spurs, went 4-7 and got a few looks so clean that he ate spaghetti off of them. He ate spaghetti in the middle of the game. It was absurd.

After Aldridge got hurt, Lillard tried to get it going. Pop even visibly chewed out Danny Green after Lillard drilled an open three. But it just didn’t happen, and Lillard ended 9-22 for 23 points after a more efficient first half. The Spurs were perpetually 9-15 points ahead for the entire second half and it didn’t seem like it would be resolved.

-In 2012, Patty Mills is playing in China after playing two Mascot-type seasons in Portland. After the Chinese season, the Spurs signed him, gave him pretty good minutes, and have since gotten solid production out of him (18 PER this year). Tonight, Patty scored 15 points on 12 shots and was +16 in 17:29. He tried to rip a rebound out of Lillard’s hands like it was his child. The Spurs saw a guy who towel waved on Portland’s bench and had to take a payday in China (playing in China sucks) and made him a useful NBA player. He’s not even like a Spurs-y “plug him in” kind of player! When Patty plays in the Olympics, for instance, he plays like he’s Iverson. The only good reason for which he was undervalued was because he is small. Abandon your biases, everyone, and ride to freedom.

-The Spurs played with a bench unit up 14 with 8 minutes to go. That’s some Arthur Chu shit right there. Arthur knows that the show is better for the audience if there is a gentle rise of topics, and Pop understands that the people want to watch Parker play. But he just refuses to give anyone what they want.

-Final play of the first half. The Spurs draw up a play. The Blazers come out in zone as a surprise, but Parker recognizes it immediately, penetrates, and dishes to “Bad” Boris Diaw who drills a three. It was a good idea, fellas.

-Victor Claver was a +2, the only Blazers with a positive +/-. I love single-game-single-player +/- it’s the best bad stat ever.

-2nd quarter: Aron Baynes posts up Lopez, tosses up the saddest hook shot I’ve ever seen, rebounds his miss, and puts it back in. Not ideal. Again, everyone seemed tired.

-The Blazers shot 38% from the field and 19% from three. P-retty bad.

-Meyers had some good pick and roll actions, in which he caught the ball. He didn’t finish or anything, but let’s take this one step at a time.

-”I’m sure [Popovich] thinks about the Olympics all the time.” Nahh, Doug, he probably doesn’t. Doug, and this is for your health, let the Olympics go, dog. Take the medal, use it as a doorstop or something. You have all this tension in your shoulders. Let me get it out for you. You should do yoga, Doug, it helps. Have you thought about a vegetarian diet, Doug? Kale.