PORTLAND — Both the Portland Trail Blazers and the San Antonio Spurs came into Wednesday winless after the All-Star break. The reasons for their struggles had been dissected.
One team rode a balanced attack with six players scoring in double-figures on their way to a big win, 111-98. It was the Blazers, as they gave the Spurs a taste of their own medicine, sending the defending champs on their way as they continue the rodeo trip from hell.
LaMarcus Aldridge had a terrible night, but with Wesley Matthews 31 points and balanced scoring, the Blazers demolished the defending champs.
After the game, chants of “WES-LEY MAT-THEWS” roared through the Moda Center. And in the locker room as he exited the showers, Aldridge performed his own rendition.
But the story of the night could not be summed up by just the numbers or even the chants for Matthews.
For Damian Lillard, who scored 18 points and was 3 for 4 from long-range, it was a feeling that characterized the night.
“We were just struggling to be in rhythm and have everybody touching the ball and moving it around,” Lillard said of their struggles coming into Wednesday. “We just looked like ourselves. It felt good to feel it. I felt it tonight. We weren’t just playing hard because that’s what we were supposed to do. We played with a purpose. Everything we did was with a purpose.”
Matthews finished, with 16 fourth-quarter points, where Nicolas Batum started. And the rest of the Blazers filled in the blanks.
Batum scored 17 points in the last game against Memphis and he was active early on both ends. He had 10 points, three assists and a pair of rebounds in the first quarter.
After blowing a 13-point lead to Memphis Sunday, Batum declared “this is not us.” Wednesday, the Blazers were a much better version of themselves.
“We kind of got away from who we were these past couple of games,” Matthews said. “The ball was kind of stopping and our emphasis this week has been ball movement, spacing, passing and attacking. That’s what we did tonight.”
For the Spurs, the same could not be said.
Point guard Tony Parker is still stuck in the mud, going 1 of 8 from the field for just two points.
The Spurs have struggled recently, and the start of their night was no different than what they have been going through. Parker missed a point blank layup and they had 13 turnovers.
But then, the Spurs showed up. They were menacingly patient running their offense and then the Blazers started to press on offense. Portland’s lead dwindled from 19 to one in the blink of an eye as the teams went to intermission.
Aldridge looked very uncomfortable early. Aldridge was 3 of 11 from the field in the first half and he did not attempt a single free throw.
For the Spurs, it was the ever-reliable Tim Duncan that kept the ship afloat. He was perfect from the field in the first half, scoring 14 points.
Parker’s field goal did not come until the 7:18 mark of the 3rd quarter.