It has been an absolutely tremendous season for LaMarcus Aldridge and the Portland Trail Blazers in 2013-2014, but they may have grabbed their best win of the first half on Friday night, with a 109-100 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
On the surface, a 9-point win over anyone doesn’t seem like a game-changing event in the NBA, but when it comes on the road against arguably the best team in the league, it is noteworthy. The aforementioned Aldridge had a typically explosive night, scoring 26 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, and that effort, coupled with some big-time support from his backcourt, was enough to push through in an “upset” win.
Aldridge out-dueled his childhood idol, Tim Duncan, in the game as he also held Duncan to just 13 points and 6 rebounds in addition his 26-point, 13-rebound effort. Still, LMA needed some help, and the backcourt duo of Wes Matthews and Damian Lillard combined for 45 points, including a 6-for-7 effort from beyond the arc from Matthews. Even with all of that, though, it was a gauntlet of a night for Portland, and they needed a big 4th quarter to secure the win.
The Blazers scored 32 points in the final frame, erasing a 1-point deficit and turning it into a 9-point win in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Impressively, Portland was able to overcome a throwback effort from Spurs great Manu Ginobili, who nearly put San Antonio on his back and carried them. Ginobili scored 29 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, and dished out 5 assists in only 25 minutes of action (!!!), but he didn’t get a lot of help, and even his Hall of Fame head coach, Gregg Popovich, didn’t do him any favors in being ejected in the 3rd quarter.
Skeptics will say that this is just one game on the schedule, but Portland announced their presence (yet again) with authority in this one, and they are here to stay.