What Spurs, Trail Blazers said after Friday’s game

Here’s a sampling of the post-game comments from both locker rooms after the Spurs’ 99-83 victory over Portland Friday night.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich:

(On turnovers in the first quarter)

“Well, I thought we obviously did a better job in the second quarter. In the second half I think they had 36 points or so, and you’re not going to do that very often. I thought we earned it. We competed well. We had a lot of guys that competed defensively and rebounding wise in the second half and it generated a lot for us. Then Tony (Parker) ran the show and kept us even for the whole game. We had some individual performances by guys that were really great. Obviously, Tiago (Splitter) and Danny Green did a great job. Kawhi (Leonard) had a wonderful all around game. We got a lot of good play to go with the defense, so it worked out for us tonight.

(On assessing Kawhi Leonard’s defensive I.Q.)

“Well he definitely has a knack defensively. He has a good nose for the ball. He seems to understand what is going on out there and he reads situations pretty well. That is a nice natural gift.

(On Tiago Splitter’s improvement from last season)

“He has the same exact skills that he had last year. He is just healthy and he’s playing. He is more confident. That is the one place where his game has changed from the past, but everything else is the same. He has been doing this for years in Europe and everywhere. He is a blue-collar guy who just does the basics really, really well. He is a great competitor.”

(On the absence of Marcus Camby)

“He is a tough nut to crack down there. He is really good. He had a couple of blocks before he got hurt and it certainly does change things on the boards for them and defensively.”

Spurs forward Tiago Splitter:

(On the bench stepping up tonight)

“Yeah, we did a pretty good job coming off the bench helping the guys ands playing hard. We played hard defense. Gary (Neal) played like the point guard and Danny (Green) brought energy and  it’s hard to match-up against us.”

 (On the performance of the young players on this team)

“Yeah, when you’re going to play against Portland, you have to play hard and that’s what we did. They played tough and physical, we have to do that.”

(On the turnovers in the first quarter and making it up in the second half)

“Once again, there were a lot of turnovers like you said, but we run the floor well. 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.”

(On the match-up against LaMarcus Aldridge)

“He’s a great player. We tried to guard him from having a great night of shooting, yet he made some unbelievable shots. We got the win and that’s what matters.”

Spurs forward DeJuan Blair:

(On what worked tonight for him and the team)

“It was by just playing defense. We played great defense despite starting out sluggish, but we came out in the second quarter and really started playing. It was really good.”

(On whether fatigue played a major factor in turnovers in the first half)

“No, it was just through not being strong with the ball. We let the ball get away from us a couple times but we got it together in the second quarter. We played a heck of a game as we played pretty good defense in the second half.”

(On the match-up against LaMarcus Aldridge)

“LaMarcus is a tough matchup as he’s a great player. I tried to play him as good as possible and we came out with the victory. I had a lot of help as Tiago (Splitter) played him great. It was wonderful.”

Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan:

(On what happened during the stretch of the game)

“We got to play with a purpose out there. I think we were just kind of freelancing with what we do and we got to work together on both ends of the floor. Defensively, even though we got off to a pretty decent start, offensively in the first quarter we had 31 points but we gave up 27. Then offensively, we stopped recognizing what was working, which was going inside to L.A. (LaMarcus Aldridge). We got to understand how we want to play, which is from the inside-out and play out of that. I thought we went away from that.”

(On the team’s defense after Marcus Camby’s injury)

“(Marcus) Camby is basically the backbone of that defense. He kind of anchors a lot of things and you know, for us we’ve been in that kind of situation before. Kurt Thomas has to come in and play, and LaMarcus (Aldridge). We can slide him to the five but he got into foul trouble. Injuries are going to happen, so we need to be more aggressive. They out-rebounded us tonight. They don’t have any monsters in the paint. Tim (Duncan) is good and (DeJuan) Blair does a good job, but that’s not a lot of length. Rebounding is about work and we know that. We need to be a better rebounding team, so everybody has to play a part in that. I thought there were some times where we were assuming a teammate was going to get the board.”

(On the team’s effort in the game)

“We got to understand what we need to do and we got to do it. We’ve done it. I thought tonight we got a little away from what we were supposed to do. Defensively, as well as offensively, I think everyone wants to put up numbers, but we got to play within our offense and it’s not ‘first opportunity, take the shot.’ It’s not a run-and-gun system. We need to get some execution, some type of rhythm and we didn’t get that tonight.”

Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge:

(How would you describe the game?)

“It was a tough loss. We had control of both halves and then we just let it slip away. It wasn’t even their starters tonight. Their second unit came in tonight and played big for them. They put pressure on us, crashed the boards hard and they just had more energy than us tonight. We had control, we just didn’t stay solid.”

(What changed for you guys in the game tonight toward the end?)

“I think in the first quarter, I was definitely rolling so it was a little bit easier. Going into the second half, they doubled and forced me baseline so things were not as easy as it was in the first quarter. But we’ve dealt with that all year, so we have to be more solid.”

(On losing Marcus Camby)

“Definitely losing him is always tough, he’s a big time rebounder and shot blocker. He’s big for us and he’s our starting center, so losing him was tough, but Kurt came in did his job. It makes it tough for substitutions after that because you get used to having Camby, then Kurt. Then now you have to find somebody who can back up Kurt. Coach will figure it out. But, like I said, losing Camby was not our reason for losing this game. We just had control and we didn’t stay solid the whole game.

Portland Trail Blazers center, Marcus Camby:

(Feelings in general of the game)

“It was definitely frustrating. We seemed to be playing good basketball. I didn’t get to see the rest of the game today. We’re going to have to figure out how to play on the road. The schedule has been in our favor the first part because we had a lot of home games and we solidified our home court.”

(Thoughts after initial injury)

“I thought I was going to be able to just get up and walk it off or run it off. I just really can’t put a lot of weight on it now. So, I’m going to stick to the treatments and try to get out on the court as quickly as possible.”

(Any words to teammates after injury?)

“We have a lot of bigs that are going to have the opportunity to play and show what they got. Guys have been working hard at practice, so now they are going to get the opportunity. So, hopefully they can make the best of the opportunity. ”

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