The NBA is a strange place. If you told me Friday afternoon that on Friday night either the Blazers or the Spurs would put up nearly 140 points and win by 30, I would have bet my life savings (all $5 of it) that you would have been talking about the home team.
However, if you told me it was the Spurs who got blown out, I would have believed you on that score too. After all, Portland beat San Antonio 137-97 last season when the Spurs’ record was 23-9. I would have just assumed that Gregg Popovich played a roster made up entirely of guys on 10-day contracts.
But if you told me the Spurs would shoot 52% from the field, put up 106 points, get 16 from Manu Ginobili, 18 from Tim Duncan, and 16 from Kawhi Leonard and still lose, well then I would have said you were simply out of your mind.
And because Friday night’s win was so inexplicable, I’ll leave it to Twitter for my recap/reaction:
— Gethin Coolbaugh (@GethinCoolbaugh) March 9, 2013
Cant believe the Blazers beat the Spurs by 30 #impressive
— Ryan Sturdivan (@Ryansturdivan) March 9, 2013
The Blazers beat the Spurs by 30?!!!? Is this real life?
— Scott Reinke (@sreinke10) March 9, 2013
— Pacduneslooper (@Pacduneslooper) March 9, 2013
Damn the Spurs got put to sleep by the Blazers
— 03•12•94 (@JayzOvaHeelz) March 9, 2013
Blazers score 46 pts in 4th quarter tonight vs Spurs. Blazers have scored 46 or less points 22 times in the first half this season. #ripcity
— Rich Patterson (@richpatterson1) March 9, 2013
— Paul Garcia PS (@24writer) March 9, 2013
— skywaker9 (@skywaker9) March 9, 2013
The #Blazers defeated the Spurs 136-106. No, that’s not a typo. Lillard finished with 35 points and 9 assists.
— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) March 9, 2013
Spurs: allow 136 pts vs Blazers, most they’ve allowed at home since 1990
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 9, 2013
and the Blazers beat the Spurs by 30?! did I land in another dimension??
— Amy Lou (@DalSportsGal) March 9, 2013
And just to add another dimension to this little crowd-sourced game report, here’s what comes up when you search “Damian Lillard” on Twitter:
Damian Lillard, runaway Rookie of the Year, is TORCHING the Spurs in San Antonio.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) March 9, 2013
My lil bro 9 @dame_lillard cooked tonight. Had the whole team watching even me and I was playing. Lol
— Lamarcus Aldridge(@aldridge_12) March 9, 2013
@dame_lillard just walked on the bus cool as the other side of the pillow.Like it was no big thing he just lit up the Spurs for 35#Dame4ROY
— John Lukrofka (@bigjohnNEP) March 9, 2013
Damian Lillard is first NBA rookie to ever record 35 points, nine assists and no turnovers since turnovers became a stat in 1978-79 (Elias).
— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) March 9, 2013
Damian Lillard’s three career 30-point games have all come on the road against teams with a combined 73-14 home record (GS, MIA, SA).
— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) March 9, 2013
5 straight games of 20+ on 50% shooting for @dame_lillard. Getting his second wind
— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) March 9, 2013
— Craig Birnbach (@CBirnbachKATU) March 9, 2013
I really cant wait to see Damian Lillard vs Derrick Rose…..
— Jason Reymone (@KingYJBron) March 9, 2013
— Taylor Sheldon (@Tay_Sheldon) March 9, 2013
The reality is, Friday’s win doesn’t change a whole lot. Portland makes up a bit of ground because the Jazz
and Lakers (damn Kobe) lose, but the Blazers still need a miracle to have a legitimate shot at the post season. Damian Lillard goes super nova, but we already know that he’s going to be Rookie of the Year. Four of Portland’s five starters score at least 15 points, but four out of five Blazer starters going off has been the major trope of 2012-13.
The major takeaways from Friday are one positive and one negative, and really have nothing to do with how completely Portland blew out one of the best teams in the league (winning the season series 2-1 in the process by the way).
The positive takeaway was obvious. Eric Maynor was an incredible pick-up. It took him a few games to get his sea legs, but with every passing day he is showing just how important it is to have a high quality back-up point guard. Maynor accounted for 20 points Friday night, the most of any Blazer bench player this season.
As it stands, Maynor had two games scoring in double digits with Oklahoma City before being flipped to Portland at the deadline. Currently he has scored at least 10 in the last three Portland games. He’s also played at least 20 minutes in four straight games. Those stats alone speak to how well he’s played and how much he’s helped his new team.
But what Maynor brings to Portland is much more than just bench scoring. With a solid point guard at the helm, the Blazers’ second unit is starting to look like it’s not ALL destined for the scrap heap. Victor Claver and Meyers Leonard have played their best ball of the season. Much of that is because unlike in the past it hasn’t been a struggle for Portland’s back up to just get the ball up the court and get the offense started. And Maynor doesn’t just make the second unit better. This game turned into a blowout when Eric Maynor and Damian Lillard were on the floor together. Maynor has been great, Friday was just one more example of it.
But just as Friday’s positive was obvious, so too was it’s negative. Meyers Leonard and Victor Claver, two guys Portland needs and two guys who have EARNED minutes over the last month, went down with sprained ankles. The word on Meyers is that it wasn’t as bad as it looked, so probably not as bad as the injury he sustained earlier in the season that kept him sidelined for a number of games. Victor’s sprain didn’t seem bad at all, but he left the game after it happened and didn’t return.
These are the things the Blazers don’t want, injuries in meaningless games. There’s not much that can be done. You have to play somebody, you just have to hope that injuries don’t happen, and if they do they’re not serious. Meyers missing time is a more significant outcome than Portland beating San Antonio. Same for Claver, though Vic’s development won’t be as hurt by losing time. Meyers had a major set-back with his last ankle injury. He can’t let that happen again.
Sorry to end this recap on a down note. Go enjoy your Friday night.
Portland finishes their road trip in New Orleans where they will look to take revenge on a team that did to the Blazers right before the All-Star Break what Portland did to San Antonio on Friday.