Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Spurs lose a close Game 4, but win Game 5 (4-0).

Damian Lillard would not be denied in Game 4, with his Blazers team on the verge of being swept. Although the Spurs' Pau Gasol got going well early, and the Spurs barely lost due to a run by Portland in the 4th quarter, it was not meant to be and Portland's firepower was simply too much. Danny Green's marksmanship (6-20 FG%) failed to deliver, despite scoring 20 points, which hurt San Antonio's ability to get a rhythm.

In the loss, Kawhi Leonard had 33 points, and Tony Parker had a double-double. Gasol finished with 19 points, but fell off later in the game as Portland won the final period 40-25, winning 123-109. Damian Lillard had a career-high 17 assists with 26 points, and CJ McCollum had 33 points.

Game 5 was a slightly different event, and in the first half it looked a bit ominous and likely for a Game 6, because Portland came out the gate hot, going up by 11 points, especially Al-Farouq Aminu's 23 early points due to Spurs' defensive lapses. But the Spurs stayed in the game, being patient, and its stars were playing well enough to contend.

The Spurs would improve defensively and up the tempo, with Kawhi Leonard (26 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists) getting dunks on the fast break that ultimately put the Spurs over the top in the final minute. Pau Gasol (14 points, 7 rebounds) was fouled and made two free throws, forcing a desperation 3PTer by Damian Lillard (21 points, 6-17 FG%) that fell just short, ending the series, 4-1.

Aminu cooled off with just 26 points total, but CJ McCollum had 25 points with 10 assists. The Spurs won the 4th Quarter 30-22, and overcame two deficits late to rally and take the series home. They'll face the OKC Thunder, a stark rival, in round two. The Spurs had 13 blocks as a team, and Tony Parker delivered after struggling in Game 4, with 24 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 6 three-pointers.

Manu Ginobili had 14 points and sparked the first run before halftime, but Portland played hard and kept the lead, before finally coming up short against the defending champions. Danny Green had 15 points.