AT&T CENTER--Standing in front of reporters, having long already shed his usual coaching attire in favor of something more basketball casual--an opportunity made possible due to his ejection from the game in the third quarter--San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich calmly fielded questions from the media scrum.
A late fourth quarter collapse on defense negated what had been a brilliant individual performance from Manu Ginobili in the third, as the Portland Trail Blazers pulled away on the strength of LaMarcus Aldridge's 26-point, 13-rebound night.
Friday night was another disappointing loss to yet another elite team, which was enough to finally embolden a reporter to broach the subject with Popovich. Hesitantly, the reporter provided Popovich with an out before asking about the team's record against the league's best.
"No, we don't ignore anything," Popovich said, referring to the team watching Game 6 of the NBA Finals before the start of the season as a means of confronting their issues. "We look everything in the eye and talk about what we need to do."
This season the Spurs have had trouble with some of the top teams in the NBA, having gone 1-8 against the West's five best teams and the Indiana Pacers. But the Spurs have had trouble with the Blazers long before they became an elite team this season, and while they've largely been able to ignore these blips against Portland in their schedule due to the Blazers utter irrelevance come post season in recent years, the first half of this season suggests a possible collision course.