Spurs push Trail Blazers to brink
Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs is fouled by Robin Lopez of the Portland Trail Blazers as he drives to the basket in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center on May 10, 2014 in Portland, Oregon - by Steve Dykes
The Spurs, who had won the first two games of the best-of-seven second-round series at home, showed no let up at the shift to Portland and can complete a four-game sweep on Monday in Oregon.
San Antonio point guard Tony Parker scored a game-high 29 points. Tim Duncan added 19 for the Spurs, who needed seven games to subdue the tenacious Dallas Mavericks in the first round.
Against a young, talented Portland team, the veteran-led Spurs have made it look easy, winning game one by 24 points and by 17 in game two.
"Game seven against Dallas they came out of the gate and they haven't stopped since," Portland coach Terry Stotts said of the Spurs.
Once again the Spurs were quick out of the blocks, scoring on five straight early possessions.
Parker followed a Duncan layup with four straight jump shots as San Antonio took a quick 10-3 lead.
"Tony has been the engine for us and he started out really well tonight," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "He made shots, he involved everybody else. He played D at the other end. He really played a whole, complete game."
Portland responded to take a 13-12 lead, but the Spurs quickly regained the advantage and led 28-18 after the first quarter. By halftime it was 60-40.
In their third rout, San Antonio made a perfect 25-for-25 from the free-throw line.
Kawhi Leonard scored 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds and Manu Ginobili chipped in 14 points off the bench for San Antonio, who committed only seven turnovers while forcing 14.
Four Portland starters poured in 20 or more points apiece. But with reserve point guard Mo Williams sidelined by a groin injury, the Trail Blazers bench contributed just six points.
"Our defense needs to be better," Stotts said. "You can look at the bench production as not having enough points, but you know, we gave up 60 points in the first half and 70 in the first half in game two."
Wesley Matthews led Portland with 22 points. Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 apiece and Nicolas Batum scored 20 in the defeat.
Lillard, whose buzzer-beating three-pointer in game six of the first round eliminated the Houston Rockets, has struggled mightily from long range in this series.
Lillard made 23-of-47 against the Rockets but is 1-for-12 from three-point range against the Spurs.
The Trail Blazers face an uphill climb. No NBA team has ever come back to win a seven-game series after trailing 3-0.
"We're going to come out and have a great effort on Monday night, that's the most important thing," Stotts said. "We're going to show our character, we're going to show our pride."
The series winners will face either Oklahoma City or the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference finals.