Originally written November 12, 2012 on NorthWest Sports Beat:
Batum takes huge step in Portland loss The Headline: Nicolas Batum asks for the ball in the fourth and delivers, but not even that saves Portland from falling just short. San Antonio Spurs vs. Portland Trail Blazers When: 10:00 ET, Saturday, November 10, 2012 Where: Rose Garden (Portland) Officials: Derek Richardson, Ron Garretson, Nick Buchert Attendance: 20,447 Love ‘em 1. Batum comes alive Early in the fourth quarter, and this game looked out of reach for Portland after a 16-0 run by San Antonio. Then Nicolas Batum asked Terry Stots for the ball. The result was a 5-8 explosion in the fourth by Batum. The biggest highlight was a game tying three for 40 seconds left, giving Mike Rice cause to blast over the airwaves: “Who needs Brandon Roy when you have Nicolas Batum?!” Making an All-Star paycheck, Batum finally put together and All-Star appearance. He finished the night with a career high 33 points on 11-18 shooting with 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block. Despite a career night, Nic Batum and the Blazers fall to the Spurs. (Photo Credit: Don Ryan/AP) Batum was also 5-7 from the three-point line. 2. L.A. has solid, quiet, night While Batum stole the headlines, LaMarcus Aldridge had just as big a night. L.A. had a big 29 points. He wasn’t huge on the boards (4 rebounds), but produced in plenty of other ways (7 assists). He was a dominating force on defense, putting together 4 blocks and 2 steals. 3. Hickson continues to produce The further we get into the season, the better the center position looks. Portland faced a big decision in the preseason, but inevitably decided to start J.J. Hickson at center. Hickson’s responded by averaging a double-double on the season. The big man had another big game Saturday, putting up 13 points, 14 rebounds (5 offensive) and a steal. Hate ‘em 1. Lillard goes quiet late At first glance, Damian Lillard had a big game. He finished this one with 20 points, 6 assists and 2 steals. But the real story is that Lillard was a non-factor outside of the first half. He didn’t make a single shot in the third quarter, and made just two in the fourth quarter. He had a combined 5 points in the second half. In a three-point game, those missed points could have really helped. 2. Troubles playing small San Antonio played small for the majority of this game. Unless the starters were on the court, Portland was defenseless against the Spurs’ three guard assault. Meyers Leonard was one of the worst contributors, resulting in -17 points when he was on the court. As a result of Portland’s lame defense, the Spurs shot 57.1 percent as a team with 63 points off the bench. 3. Portland falls to another fractured team The Trail Blazers have put up some big fights against some big teams. Despite their best efforts, they still only have one win on the season. The big kicker is that these teams they’re playing aren’t complete teams. Yes, Portland played a very close one against a great Spurs team. However, the Spurs were also without star point guard Tony Parker. The same can be said of Portland’s loss to Dallas, in which the Mavs were playing without Dirk Nowitzki. The Blazers are playing the best basketball they can, and if not for some missed opportunities they could have won some of these games. But how bad do things get when the opposition gets healthy? CLICK HERE CHECK OUT OUR TRAIL BLAZERS BLOG AT THE NWSB!
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