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Spurs Fall to Blazers, 115-105
Written by Blazers.com    Saturday, 02 November 2013 22:32   

The Portland Trail Blazers got their home schedule off to a tremendous start Saturday night at the Moda Center with a 115-105 victory against the San Antonio Spurs. With the victory, the Trail Blazers won their thirteenth-consecutive home opener, the second-longest streak in NBA history.

While it was in some respects a historic victory, it was also a night full of Moda Center debuts. Local food options such as Fire On the Mountain Wings and Sizzle Pie Pizza, upgraded in-arena wifi provided by Toyota, a mobile app featuring exclusive video content and a new 100-point play promotion with McDonald’s were among the many upgrades rolled out for the fans in attendance.

But it was the Trail Blazers upgraded offense that took center stage against the defending Western Conference champs. The Trail Blazers shot 56 percent from the field and 40 percent from three to help secure their second victory in as many nights.

“I like it because it’s difficult to game plan if you have different players who are capable of making shots and making plays,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts of his team’s balanced scoring, which featured six players scoring in double figures. “To me, as long as the ball is moving and the shots are in rhythm, whether everybody scores double figures or one guy gets 40, as long as the game is played at the offensive end with continuity and passing and teamwork, that’s the most important thing.”

The Trail Blazers shot 56 percent from the field, lead by a 11-of-17 offensive performance from LaMarcus Aldridge, who finished with 24 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal in 38 minutes. The performance was just the latest in a string of seemingly effortless performances for the two-time all-star, who said he always has a little something extra when playing against the Spurs.

“I don’t ever want to take LaMarcus for granted because he’s been remarkably consistent, not only last year but throughout his career,” said Stotts. “What he’s doing right now is he’s playing his game and playing it well. I certainly don’t take it for granted but it doesn’t surprise me.”

The Moda Center crowd, possibly while snacking on spicy peanut chicken wings or pork belly cubano sandwiches, got their first taste of what center Robin Lopez can bring to the Trail Blazers roster with a 12-point, six-rebound, two-block night. Lopez struggled mightily in Portland’s season-opening loss to the Suns and was better in their victory Friday night in Denver against the Nuggets, but his play in Saturday night’s victory was the first real glimpse of the best that Lopez has to offer.

“He plays hard at both ends, really goes after every rebound,” said Stotts of Lopez, who played all but 50 seconds of the second half. “He made a big block down the stretch. His presence in the paint just makes a difference. You feel his effort and you feel his energy when he’s on the court.”

Portland once again got strong production from their guard rotation of Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews and Mo Williams, who combined for 58 points on 21-of-38 shooting from the field.

“We have a lot of guys that can score,” said Matthews. “We move the ball well and that’s got to be our thing. On any given night, someone can go off for a big night, but for the most part, for us to stay consistent, for us to continue to win and build wins on top of wins, we have to have that. Mo coming off the bench playing well, Dorell (Wright) playing well of the bench and everybody that gets in the game has to produce.”

And then there’s Nicolas Batum, who produced a triple-double with 12 rebounds, 11 assists and 11 points in 36 minutes. Usually the completion of a triple-double is cause for celebration, but for Batum, it was a mark of shame, as he only achieved double figures in points by taking and making, albeit almost entirely by accident, a three-pointer as time expired in a game whose outcome was already decided.

“I didn’t really mean to shoot,” said Batum. “I threw the ball away, when it went in I was like ‘Oh no.’ I was like ‘Why did I shoot first?’ That’s maybe the worst thing I’ve ever done in my career. I don’t mean to disrespect this team. The San Antonio Spurs maybe the best team from the last 15 years in the NBA. I never disrespect this team and I love this team. I got a lot of friends on this team.”

Spurs head coach Greg Popovich and point guard Tony Parker, a fellow Frenchman and national team teammate of Batum, said they didn’t take offense at the lapse in professional basketball decorum, which served to confirm San Antonio’s status as one of the premier franchises in professional sports.

The Trail Blazers now have two days off before returning to the Moda Center Tuesday to host the Rockets. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 PM.

 

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