"He had a decent game, didn't he? We held him to 40 or 35. I stopped counting. He was great."
Those were the words from San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich regarding Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
After starting the game with a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter, the Spurs looked like they were beginning their annual Rodeo Road Trip on the right path. Little did the Spurs know, a former Texas product would lead his team to a 99-86 victory over them.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 40 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in what he considers the Trail Blazers (26-22) best win of the season.
"It has to be. This is the best team in the league. This is big for us, coming off two losses," Aldridge said.
He could not be stopped. Whether it was hitting his consistent 18-foot jump shot, grabbing an offensive rebound for a simple put back, or effortlessly using his height and athleticism to catch easy lobs over the Spurs' smaller defenders.
After opening the game with a 7-0 run to start, San Antonio struggled to make a shot and get in any sort of rhythm. The Spurs went 9-23 in the first quarter and trailed the Trail Blazers 24-22 to end the first.
In the second quarter, DeJuan Blair and the Spurs' role players sparked the team with some much-needed energy as the team scored 30 points in the second quarter. Blair had 14 points and 11 rebounds going into halftime. Right before the half, Manu Ginobili hit a step back three pointer to send the Spurs into halftime with a 52-47 lead and strong momentum.
In the third quarter, the game got sloppy. Both teams were having inconsistent possessions at a time and had trouble connecting on any baskets. The Trail Blazers were fortunate to score 24 points in the quarter and hold the Spurs to just 19 points. The game was tied 71-71 going into the fourth quarter.
The difference in the game came in the fourth quarter; with big plays coming from LaMarcus Aldridge, guard Wesley Matthews (21 points on 50% shooting) and point guard Andre Miller (18 points and 9 assists), the Trail Blazers used the Rose Garden’s mass energy to score 28 points in the fourth quarter and hold the Spurs to just 15 points. With 2:30 left in the ball game, San Antonio coach Popovich pulled the starters and let the bench finish the game. He’d seen enough.
After having strong momentum heading into the locker room at halftime, the Spurs offense struggled mightily as the team was only able to score a combined 34 points in the second half. Credit Portland’s defense for holding the Spurs' "Big Three" of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker to a combined 38 points. With the loss, the Spurs fell to 40-8 on the season.
Next for the Spurs is a Thursday night matchup in Los Angeles against the defending champion Lakers.
- Spurs point guard Tony Parker had one of his worst games of the season only scoring 6 points (3-11 FG) in 32 minutes of action.
- Spurs rookie Gary Neal is in a shooting slump for the first time this season. Neal went 1-7 for 2 points against the Rockets on Saturday and finished 1-6 for 3 points tonight against the Trail Blazers.
- The Spurs perimeter defense did a fine job holding Portland to 15% shooting from behind the arc; however, the interior and mid range defense allowed the Trail Blazers to shoot 51%.
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