Game rewind: TP’s fourth-quarter spurt ices victory

Game analysis: The Spurs’ bench came through with a pivotal performance to bail them out after early struggles. And after struggling to contain the athletic Trail Blazers in the first quarter, the Spurs limited Portland to 33.9 percent shooting during the rest of the game.

Where the game was won: After Nicolas Batum gave Portland a 67-65 lead 10 seconds into the fourth quarter, the Spurs hit Portland for 14 straight points and an 18-2 spurt that put the game away. The run was keyed by Kawhi Leonard who provided a 3-pointer and had a steal and a layup that was set up by DeJuan Blair’s rebound and long outlet pass.  By the time the run ended, the Spurs had an 83-69 lead that dropped below digits only once during the rest of the game. 

And don’t forget about this, either: Raymond Felton pulled Portland within 85-76 with 4:51 left on a jumper after earlier hitting a 3-pointer  on the previous possession. From there, Parker scored San Antonio’s next 10 points to ice the victory.

Player of the game I: Parker finished with 20 points and nine assists, mainly because of a strong fourth quarter where he scored 12 points in barely five minutes of game action.  

Player of the game II:  Tiago Splitter had one of his best career games, scoring 14 points on 5-for-5 field goal shooting, four rebounds and two assists and two blocked shots. His strong effort typified the lift the Spurs’ bench provided to the victory.

Player of the game III: The Spurs had no early answer for LaMarcus Aldridge, who started quickly with 14 points in the first quarter. The Spurs were aided as the game progressed by better defense and Aldridge’s foul trouble, which limited him to 29 points and seven rebounds. It could have been much worse.

Most unsung: Danny Green’s strong night was of the Spurs’ strong bench play. Green scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds but more impressive was his plus-29 plus/minus score which was the best of the season for a Spurs player.

Did you notice: The Spurs committed 10 turnovers in the first quarter as Portland turned the mistakes into 15 fast break points on 7-for-7 shooting . The Spurs did a better job protecting the basketball during the rest of the game and Portland couldn’t get its running game going nearly as effectively.

Did you notice II: Spurs rookie forward Malcolm Thomas got his first NBA action during garbage time in the fourth quarter. Thomas grabbed an offensive rebound in two minutes of game action.

Stat of the game: The Spurs’ bench outscored their Portland counterparts, 45-17. The edge was 27-2 in the first half.

Stat of the game II: Parker produced 20 points and nine assists. Before Manu Ginobili’s injury, Parker was averaging 13.8 points and 6.5 assists per game. In the games since Ginobili was placed on the injured list, Parker is averaging 17.9 points and 8.0 assists. And in his last three games, he’s averaging 23.3 points per game with three  consecutive 20-point games for the first time since the final three games of the playoffs against Memphis last season.

Stat of the game III: With Marcus Camby out and Aldridge battling foul trouble, the Spurs were able to outrebound Portland, 50-36. The 14-board difference was only the third time since 1986 that the Spurs have outrebounded Portland by 14 rebounds or more. It was San Antonio’s largest rebounding margin against the Trail Blazers since they had a 27-rebound margin in a 106-75 blowout on Jan. 4, 2006.

Weird stat of the game: Maybe it was a weird Friday the 13th mojo at work. Or maybe Camby might be developing triskaidekaphobia, which is the fear of the number 13. Camby played 13 minutes, 13 seconds before his ankle injury Friday that idled him for the rest of the game.

Quote of the game: “We made easy buckets and we had great defense. If we play like this every night, it’s going to be tough to beat the Spurs,” Splitter, on the lift provided by the Spurs’ bench.

How the schedule stacks up: The Spurs will have one more game during their brief homestand, Phoenix on Sunday night before a back-to-back road trip with games at Miami on Tuesday and Orlando on Wednesday. The Trail Blazers began a six-game road trip that will continue with a back-to-back Saturday in Houston and upcoming games Monday at New Orleans and Wednesday at Atlanta. 

Injuries: Ginobili missed his seventh game after undergoing surgery for a fractured fifth left metacarpal.  Ford missed his second game with a torn left hamstring sustained Tuesday night in Milwaukee. Portland center Greg Oden remains out with a left knee injury. And Camby was idled late in the second quarter with a left ankle sprain and did not  return after failing to score and grabbing three rebounds.

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