NBA: Spurs regain championship form in Blazers rout
SAN ANTONIO, USA - Tony Parker poured in 33 points and the San Antonio Spurs romped to a 116-92 victory over Portland on Tuesday in game one of their NBA second-round playoff series.
The Spurs point guard Parker also had nine assists, and six Spurs players scored in double figures as the Western Conference top seeds took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
"The whole team is playing great right now," said Parker, adding that their game-seven rout of Dallas to advance from the first round on Sunday had buoyed the Spurs.
Kawhi Leonard scored 16 points and Tim Duncan scored 12 points and pulled down 11 rebounds for the 152nd post-season double-double of his career, a tally that trails only the 157 playoff double-doubles of Magic Johnson.
Despite only two points from Manu Ginobili, San Antonio's reserves also came up big. Marco Belinelli of Italy scored 19 points and Australian imports Aron Baynes and Patty Mills had 10 points each.
The Spurs, showing the skills that produced a league-leading 62 regular-season victories, scored the first eight points against the less-experienced Trail Blazers and never looked back.
They led 29-16 after one quarter and 65-39 at halftime.
The Trail Blazers, meanwhile, missed six shots on their first six possessions and had two turnovers as the Spurs seized the initiative.
Portland connected on just five of 23 attempts from the field in the opening quarter, and Parker's first-quarter-total of 13 points almost matched Portland's 16.
Setting the tone
"They did what championships teams do," Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge said. "They set the tone early. They let us know how it's going to be."
Portland, who had upset Houston in the first round, never really threatened, and the Spurs rested their stars down the stretch.
Aldridge scored 32 points with 14 rebounds for Portland, while Damian Lillard, hero in the series decider against the Rockets, finished with 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting.
Overall, however, Portland's shooting percentage of 37.8 percent didn't let the make a dent, and they committed 20 turnovers to just nine assists for the game.
The Trail Blazers will try to regroup on Thursday, when the Spurs host game two, and Parker cautioned that the Spurs couldn't afford to be complacent.
"We have to realize game one is just game one," he said. "They will come out with a lot of energy, and we have to match that."
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was also leery of assuming San Antonio had set a tone for the series.
"This one's over," Popovich said of the game. "We'll take a look at the film and see if there's things we can improve and go on to game two – it's a whole different animal.
"Every game is different, it takes on a different personality," he added.
The Western Conference semi-finals continue on Wednesday when the Oklahoma City Thunder host the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Thunder – led by newly crowned NBA Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant – will be trying to bounce back from a 122-105 loss to the Clippers on their home floor on Monday. - Rappler.com