Live from the Moda Center as the Portland Trail Blazers host the San Antonio Spurs in the fourth game of the Western Conference Semifinals.
This could be the end of the line. The Blazers are down 0-3 in this best of seven series, a hole that no team in NBA history has ever been able to dig themselves out of. One more loss and it’s time for a summer full of margaritas and fishing. Hey, Blazers, you guys have an open invitation to hit the seas with me on the SS 90s Emo anytime!
There’s not too much left to say about this series. It’s a massacre. The Spurs are just too damn good. Terry Stotts is going to have such bad PTSD when this is over that he’s going to return next year with a full beard after a summer spent on solo wilderness walkabout. He has to clear his mind of those Tony Parker pick and rolls somehow.
After dropping game three, the Blazers spoke about playing with pride tonight. Stotts claimed his team would play its ass off. Is that enough to avoid the sweep? The Blazers have been playing their asses off thus far. San Antonio has just had an answer at every step of the way.
Don’t count Portland all the way out, though. If I've learned anything from Kevin Garnett—other than how to effectively bang my head into a basketball stanchion—it’s that anything is possible.
Hey Spurs, Kevin Millar wants you to know that you can’t let the Blazers win tonight. Do I think the Blazers have a shot at coming back in this series? No. Lloyd Christmas has better odds at this point. But the Blazers are a much better team than they have shown. Squint hard enough and you might be able to see some magic left in them.
Once again the Blazers will be without the services of Mo Williams, and they definitely missed his offense last game. Earl Watson could only stay on the court for five minutes, and Will Barton was a whopping -12 in his eleven minutes of game time.
Which brings up a larger issue: Portland’s bench has once again proven itself thin and unreliable. San Antonio has done a masterful job of growing leads in the second quarter of games with Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli, and Boris Diaw on the court, while the Portland reserves can only hope to tread water. San Antonio’s bench has outscored Portland’s bench 140-43 over the course of the first three games, and those numbers certainly won’t improve with Mo Williams out.
I don't want this to be the last game of the season. I’m not ready to write “H.A.G.S” in all of your yearbooks quite yet. Come on, Blazers! Don’t get swept!
11:34 - Damian Lillard with the first make of the game. The Blazers are wasting no time, and have Nicolas Batum guarding Tony Parker to start this one. 2-0 Blazers.
9:26 - The Blazers had a lead, and had some momentum (the crowd is really bringing it tonight!), but two straight turnovers have given the Spurs the lead. 8-5 Spurs.
8:15 - LaMarcus Aldirdge with his first make of the game. He started backpedaling before that one even left his hands—that's a sure fire sign that his shot is wet. 9-8 Blazers.
7:20 - The Spurs need time! Nicolas Batum was able to secure an offensive rebound, and on the ensuing possession, Damian Lillard ran a pick and roll with Robin Lopez and splashed a one-handed floater over Tim Duncan. This already feels like a different Blazers team. 14-8 Blazers.
5:38 - For the first time all series, LaMarcus Aldridge is dealing. His jumper is money. Tiago Splitter can only sit back and watch. 18-14 Blazers.
5:00 - Well, that's one way to slow down Aldridge—just have him fumble the ball out of bounds on an entry pass. Whoops! 18-14 Blazers.
3:49 - Thomas Robinson had a strip on Aron Baynes, but the refs didn't see it that way. There was a late whistle even though Portland was already off and running in the other direction. No matter. Robinson got his revenge on the next play by swatting a Baynes jumper into the sixth row. 20-14 Blazers.
2:54 - Woah, CJ McCollum sighting! I guess Stotts is desperate to fill up those backup PG minutes somehow. 21-15 Blazers.
1:25 - Hey, look at that. Portland's bench is losing this lead like it's their job. Will Barton turnover, CJ McCollum missed jumper, rinse, repeat. 21-21 Tie.
0:47 - Nicolas! After a made Patty Mills three gave the Spurs the lead, Batum took the ball, called off the entire Blazers roster, and took Manu Ginobili right into the post for an easy and one opportunity. 26-24 Blazers.
0:22 - Thomas Robinson! Three-point play! That should have been called a charge, but whatever! 29-24 Blazers.
0:00 - That quarter was a delight. The Blazers spent more time with the lead than they had in all other three games combined. I guess that isn't technically a huge accomplishment, seeing as how they only had a lead for a combined 0:33 before tonight, but still. The Blazers look like they might have finally figured something out. 29-24 Blazers.
9:56 - The bench is treading water! Okay! Stotts need to roll with this as long as possible, get those starters some rest. 31-28 Blazers.
8:54 - Four quick points for the Spurs, and Portland needs time. Robin Lopez was waiting to check back into the game—the timeout was probably more about getting him back on to the court quickly as both buckets came right at the rim. Portland's bench gets a solid good job, good effort for that run. 33-32 Blazers.
8:31 - Wait, Thomas Robinson and Will Barton are still in this one. Barton air balled a three, and Robinson missed a put back at the rim, but their energy was enough on the offensive glass to let Robin Lopez grab a rebound and get fouled. 34-32 Blazers.
6:24 - I don't want to live in a world where Will Barton does anything other than drive right into the teeth of the defense and throw up a wild shot. You do you, Will, because for some inexplicable reason it's working tonight. 38-36 Blazers.
5:14 - Will Barton is a difference maker! We've reached peak Barton! He is somehow willing his way to the rim, and willing the ball to go in once he gets there. I don't understand, but I love it. 42-38 Blazers.
3:40 - Thomas Robinson and Will Barton received a huge ovation as they checked out. What a stretch for those two. They earned every single one of those claps. 44-43 Blazers.
2:52 - Lillard! He split the defense, drove, and threw down a one handed jam with authority in traffic. The normally cool Lillard let out a huge yell after that one. I would have too were I actually able to, you know, dunk. 46-43 Blazers.
1:50 - For as great as Portland has played tonight, the Spurs have just tied it up. It feels like the Blazers should be up fifteen, but I guess that's the beauty of San Antonio. 46-46 Tie.
0:47 - That last jumper from Aldridge rolled around the rim for about six rotations. In, out, in, out, and finally back in. 50-48 Blazers.
0:00 - Look at that. For the first time all series, the Blazers aren't facing an insurmountable hole heading into the halftime break. They might just avoid the sweep after all! 50-48 Blazers.
11:30 - Dame for three! Those have been so far and few between this series—I think that's his second in three and a half games?—that it warrants some celebration. Even better? It came off of an offensive rebound. 53-48 Blazers.
10:20 - Batum and Lopez are running the pick and roll here early this quarter. That's two straight trips where the duo have connected, and Lopez has been able to convert both. 57-51 Blazers.
8:56 - Oooh, and now Lillard and Aldridge are getting in on that pick and roll action. Alley oop from Dame to LaMarcus, easy living at the rim. 59-53 Blazers.
6:36 - The defense has ratcheted up a bit. In the last two and a half minutes, both teams only have one field goal. The energy is still on Portland's side. This is a very winnable game. 61-55 Blazers.
6:18 - Batum and Lopez! Pick and roll! Lopez with the pretty basket and foul in traffic! But, ugh, dude missed his free throw. 63-57 Blazers.
4:51 - Batum! He rolled off of a Lopez screen, felt the pressure from Ginobili, and fired as soon as he had a look at the rim. Manu bumped him as he shot. It fell, and Batum is now the proud owner of a four-point play! 69-61 Blazers.
4:08 - Batum for three! This place! 72-61 Blazers.
3:36 - Say this for Gregg Popovich—if his team gets in a hole, he lets them play through it. I can't hear myself think, and somehow the Spurs are still carrying through their offense even though this place is utter chaos. 74-61 Blazers.
3:01 - I think Lillard hit a three in there somewhere. Honestly, I'm not too sure, because I think my brain might have exploded. 77-64 Blazers.
2:22 - Matthews blocked a Tony Parker shot, corralled the rebound, and fired ahead to a streaking Will Barton. You knew Barton was going to put that one through over two defenders because Will Barton can't miss. It took four games, but the Blazers we were expecting in this series have finally come to play. 79-64 Blazers.
0:59 - Oh man, that Matthews three would have brought the house down, but it juuuust rattled out. 81-68 Blazers.
0:00 - How can you top off a quarter like that? With a Nicolas Batum rejection at the rim, that's how. Batum is balling out of his mind, and he's three assists shy of a triple double. The Blazers just dropped 35 on the Spurs. This is a game that is happening. Goonies never say die. 85-68 Blazers.
10:04 - The Spurs have only scored four points this quarter, but since the Blazers have gone scoreless here two minutes in, the crowd is getting a little restless. 85-72 Blazers.
9:31 - Eh, just let Lillard clear out on Aron Baynes. That will work every time. Basket, and one. 88-72 Blazers.
8:09 - It's Portland's night. Lillard threw a bad pass to Thomas Robinson, but somehow the loose ball found its way back into Dame's hands for the easy two at the rim. 92-74 Blazers.
7:45 - Lillard. He has made a living at the rim. He has successfully annexed the paint to be his own private territory called Dame's Landing where everything is good forever and ever. 94-74 Blazers.
6:36 - Wow. The Spurs have pulled their starters. Matt Bonner, Cory Joseph, and Jeff Ayers are going to finish this game out. Those old San Antonio legs are getting some rest. 96-77 Blazers.
3:55 - The Blazers cannot put the ball in the basket. But, thankfully, neither can the Spurs. If the San Antonio starters were in there, this could be nervous time...but Tony Parker isn't walking through that door. It's all up to Matt Bonner now. 96-81 Blazers.
3:45 - Ooof, Dame just took a shot from Bonner (the enforcer!) as both there running towards a rebound that was going out of bounds. Dame got it right across the throat, and he appears to be in some pain. At least I hope he's in pain, because that face is U-G-L-Y. 96-81 Blazers.
3:21 - Batum to Barton alley oop! Nicolas is now only two assists away from that triple double. 98-83 Blazers.
2:47 - Batum missed a shot by two feet, but Matthews came swooping in to grab the rebound and lay it up in one single motion. That's going to go down as a missed shot and rebound, but Batum should really try and lobby for that assist. 100-83 Blazers.
1:44 - Danny Green out here making this game seem closer than it actually was. 100-89 Blazers.
0:47 - Will Barton for three! Okay, who had Will Barton scoring seventeen points in a second round matchup in the playoffs? 103-92 Blazers.
FINAL: 103-92 Blazers. Don't let that close-ish score fool you, this was a commanding victory. Portland finally had some outside shots fall, San Antonio had some shots rim out, and just like that we're going to game five. There's life in these Blazers yet.