Spurs blast Blazers, clinch West’s top spot


Apr 23, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) pulls down a rebound during the second half against the Portland Trail Blazers at the AT

Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting in addition to four blocks.

Less than a week away from the postseason tipping off, San Antonio treated their 2011-12 season ticket holders to a dominating performance. Two games still remain until the playoffs, but San Antonio finished out their regular season home schedule Monday night with a rout over the Portland Trail Blazers.

A 124-89 win over the same Portland team that crushed San Antonio prior to the All-Star break was nice revenge, but clinching the Western Conference’s top seed was the icing on the cake. While the Spurs still have plenty of basketball left to play, Popovich’s squad is heating up at the most appropriate time.

San Antonio is rolling through their final stretch of regular season games, and they continue to show no signs of slowing down. The entire Big Three was in action tonight, and led by Tim Duncan, who finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.

However, matching Duncan’s point total, was Danny Green. In 15 minutes, Green was perfect from the field, scoring 18 points on six shot attempts and two free throws.

Green’s stellar performance was in part to his 4-4 from beyond the arc, which contributed to a Spurs team that went 12-22 from the three-point line.

While the team was hot from long range, the Spurs committed 16 turnovers. Though, those turnovers were offset by solid ball movement from San Antonio who had a total of 34 assists.

Portland was missing LaMarcus Aldridge, who is out for the rest of the season, but San Antonio clearly was the better team. Two of Danny Green’s four three-point makes came in the first few minutes of the game, which set the tone for the rest of the night.

Apr 23, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; Portland Trail Blazers head coach Kaleb Canales during the first half against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT

The Trail Blazer’s just could not find any rhythm. Gregg Popovich always adjusted when Portland started to chip away at the large deficit. On the other bench was interim head coach Kaleb Canales. A Laredo, Texas-native, who took over after Nate McMillan was fired, did not have much of a chance in this one going up against the potential NBA Coach of the Year calling the shots for Portland’s opposition tonight.

Popovich has been impressive this season, and in front of a rocking AT&T Center, he locked up the top spot in the West. Predictions all year have avoided putting the Spurs in legitimate contender status, but with the Spurs in that one-seed for the second year in a row, how can anyone doubt the Spurs now?

An injury to Gary Neal would have hurt San Antonio’s cause, but it appears to only be a stinger. With that close call with Neal, Popovich will probably be even more conservative with the Big Three in the last two games.

Thankfully though, Neal and the rest of the team will have the benefit of having Tuesday off, then finish up the regular season Wednesday in Phoenix and Thursday in Oakland.

Game notesThe Spurs bench scored 63 points tonight … The Spurs shot 59.3 percent from the field; their fifth straight game shooting better than 50 percent … Their 34 assists represents a season-high … Green converted on all his shots tonight (including free throws) … Green’s +12 was actually the lowest among Spurs starters … There were no lead changes or ties tonight … The Spurs have officially clinched the No. 1 seed with the win … The victory is the Spurs eighth consecutive double-digit victory … Tony Parker (13 points, seven rebounds, six assists) led the team with a +25 … Neal underwent an x-ray following his scary collision with Kurt Thomas; x-rays were negative … Neal finished with 12 points on 3-of-8 shooting … Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet led the Blazers with a -8, respectively … Wesley Matthews scored 24 points on 9-of-24 shooting … Matthews did post a team-low -31, however … JJ Hickson (14 points, 10 rebounds) recorded his seventh double-double since being acquired from the Sacramento Kings … LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicholas Batum, Jamal Crawford and Joel Pryzbilla sat out of tonight’s game …