PORTLAND — The last time the Portland Trail Blazers and Blazers fans left the Moda Center, the energy was such that it seemed like nobody would ever go to sleep.
Eight days later, the building cleared out before the final buzzer and the energy was more apt for bedtime.
Following a 118-103 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday, the Blazers face a 3-0 series deficit in the best-of-seven series. No team has ever come back from trailing the series 3-0 to win in NBA history.
The Blazers are taking the last three double-digit losses the best way they can.
“”I think for us it’s just growth,” said Damian Lillard, who had a rough 7-for-21 shooting night which continued a tough series for him after a great first round performance.
Lillard added: “Understanding what it takes to get it done, not only one round but two or three, four. We are just seeing them putting on a clinic of how to execute, how to guard every option of our offense and to be consistent at it.”
The Spurs were excellent once again at the start, building off their 6-0 start.
Tony Parker, who scored a game-high 29 points, had 12 points in the opening quarter.
Following Game 2, the Blazers came away feeling that they had a good enough start but it was the second quarter that had sabotaged them in the previous two games.
The Spurs, behind their dominant bench, continued to look a league apart from the Blazers in the second quarter on Saturday night.
Their bench advantage was 40-6 on the night and is 140-43 over the first three games of the series.
“It’s a little frustrating, giving it your all and still you don’t get where you want to go,” said Victor Claver, one of the Blazers bench players who saw his first playoff action on Saturday.
Once again the Spurs won the quarter by double-digits and the Blazers found themselves down by 20 points at the intermission.
The Blazers faced a clear choice at the start of the second half: Fold, and the Spurs would hold a commanding 3-0 lead that no NBA team has ever comeback from, or fight.
The Blazers have prided themselves on their competitiveness every night and of course, they chose the second option.
Nicolas Batum scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half and helped the Blazers get started offensively. In the first 8:32 of the third quarter, the Blazers matched half of their first half total.
The Blazers also got stops, which hasn’t accompanied their better offensive moments in this series.
It seemed that every time the Blazers would make some shots the Spurs had an answer and finally, it seemed, for the first time in the series the sage Spurs couldn’t respond.
The Blazers cut the lead to seven points with Batum even getting a wild bank three with 6:22 to play in the third quarter.
But seven points was as close as they would come as the Spurs found their form again.
The Blazers bench has been a skeleton crew for much of the year and without back-up point guard Mo Williams, they were as thin as ever.
They only scored two points with coach Terry Stotts electing to play the five starters heavy minutes in what was basically a do-or-die situation.
Down by 14 at the end of three quarters, Stotts threw caution to the wind and started the fourth quarter with all five starters, something the Blazers haven’t done all postseason.
The Spurs continued pushing and eventually they pushed the Blazers away from any hope they could win the game.
The Blazers now have pride to play for and don’t want a season they were proud of to end in the way that it could if the Spurs win on Monday.
“It wouldn’t be just to lose the series 4-0 after all of the season,” said Claver.