The Blazers ended a five game home stand in resounding fashion on Tuesday night with 99-86 victory over the league’s best team. In the midst of his signature season, LaMarcus Aldridge crafted his signature performance, putting up a career high 40 points and grabbing 11 rebounds while handing the Spurs just their 8th lost of the season.
Aldridge made his final case for the all-star team, and it was a strong one. The Blazers scored just six points in the first seven minutes of the game but Aldridge would score 12 of the next 16, doing most of his work inside to give Portland a two point lead through one. The Spurs had no answers for him in that first quarter, when Aldridge notched 16 points on 7-10 shooting, which included a series of emphatic dunks.
Midway through the third quarter the Blazers clamped down on defense, allowing just five points in the final six minutes to send the game to the fourth tied at 71. From there, Portland pulled away behind Aldridge, who was unequivocally the best player on the floor on this evening. He scored in every which way, whether it was the pick and roll, pick and pop, inside and out, and finished the game with a sparkling 5-5 for 13 points in the decisive fourth quarter.
Wes Matthews had 11 points in the final quarter, and his three pointer at the nine minute mark gave the Blazers a 77-75 edge. The Spurs dominated the offensive glass in the first half, but with the score tied at 78, it was the Blazers who grabbed three offensive boards on one possession. The final one came when Aldridge put back a Matthews misfire to give Portland a lead they would never relinquish. That would start a 14-2 run, capped by an Andre Miller jumper with 2:55 remaining that put the Blazers up 12. Moments later, Miller would feed Aldridge on a backdoor lob that gave him his first career 40 point game, and shortly after Greg Popovich was pulling his starters. Clearly he had seen enough of Aldridge.
“I think we held him to 40,” Popovich said chuckling. “I stopped counting after a while.
Portland yielded just 34 points in the second half and outscored the Spurs 28-15 in the final quarter. Manu Ginobili had 17 points on just 6-18 shooting, and Tony Parker was rendered non-factor with just six points.
It was a critical win for the Blazers, who needed a boost following two straight losses on their home court in which they shot less than 40% from the field. The shot 50% in this one, and head coach Nate McMillan was a happy camper afterward.
“To go toe-to-toe with most teams, we can’t do that,” McMillan said. “We’ve got to outwork you, we’ve got to be smarter, execute. And if we do that, we play hard, we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win. Tonight, we beat the best team in the league.”
About the Author
Written by Brandon Marcus
I am 25 year old native New Yorker. I went to the University of Florida where I got my degree Sports Management. I am a die hard fan of the New York Giants, Knicks, Mets and the movie, Die Hard. I'll be covering the Portland Trail Blazers, but also will keep my eye on the league as a whole, and will drop in from time to time with some random thoughts.