Friday, November 11, 2016

Spurs achieve hot start, withstand rally by Blazers (3-0).

Pau Gasol had a great performance, but not after the Spurs entered Game 3 in Portland and won the 1st Quarter 38-27, a sign of things to come. The Spaniard specialist finished with a game-high 28 points and strong 12 rebouds with 3 blocks, making 4 three-pointers as well.

Ball movement was stellar by the Spurs in the first half, as every player got into a rhythm, but the Blazers weren't going to simply accept an 0-3 deficit, as their play improved down the stretch and challenged for the lead, ultimately taking it in the 3rd quarter 87-85. It was a rough night for Damian Lillard, however, and the Blazers top scorers were Evan Turner and Al-Farouq Aminu.

The final period, however, belonged to the Spurs in typical Spurs fashion with a 12-2 run to begin the 4th Quarter. Kawhi Leonard's athleticism took center stage, as did his tremendous defensive efforts, finishing with 19 points on a proficient 7-10 FG%. Danny Green was solid too, scoring 18 points on 5 long balls. Another strong showing was in store for Thaddeus Young, whose solid play on the boards hoisted 10 rebounds with 17 points, drawing free throw attempts and looking 'in the zone' tonight.

The Spurs did miss several free throws, which almost cost them the game once Portland took the lead, because the Spurs would've been up by 8 had they made all of their free throws, especially when it's better free throw shooters missing the most. Slight frustration aside, the Spurs held off the Blazers, winning big in the final period 38-20, for a commanding 132-111 victory to all but finish off this series. Josh Smith also thundered the rim at times on the fast break with some nice pick-and-roll exchanges for 10 points and 7 rebounds. The Spurs also out-shot Portland 50% to 46%.