[May 15, 2014]SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs
are known more as a collective than a team dominated by a few
superstars, and that sets them apart among contenders for the NBA
That identity served them well Wednesday night. The Spurs lost
their best player, guard Tony Parker, to a tight left hamstring,
early in the second quarter. Instead of folding, San Antonio
summoned timely contributions from other players and defeated the
Portland Trail Blazers 104-82 to win their Western Conference
semifinal series four games to one.
Forward Kawhi Leonard and guard Danny Green scored 22 points apiece
for the Spurs, combining to convert seven of 10 3-point shots. Green
led the Spurs with nine rebounds, and Leonard made a game-high five
Green struggled before Wednesday, scoring 22 points in the first
four games of the series.
Guard Patty Mills, filling in for Parker, scored 18 points and made
three steals. Forward Tim Duncan added 16 points and eight rebounds.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said he did not know the extent of
"They (medical staff) just said he couldn't come back," Wednesday,
Guard Manu Ginobili said one thing is certain: "We need him back and
healthy if we want to make the Finals," Ginobili said.
Mills was averaging 15 minutes and seven points a game in the
playoffs as Parker's backup. He played more than 25 minutes on
"You never want to see a guy go down, like Tony," Portland forward
LaMarcus Aldridge said. "But I thought Patty played great."
As did Leonard, the third-year player who was assertive at both ends
of the court all night. There are some games when he defers on
offense to Duncan, Parker and Ginobili, who have won three NBA
"He'll have some games like the last game when he'll be a little bit
tentative," Popovich said. "When he plays freely and takes what
comes -- catch it and shoot it, catch it and drive it, don't think
about it -- then we get a game out of him like this. It's becoming
more and more this kind of game then the deferred kind of game."
Leonard said circumstances dictated that he play that way.
"Knowing Tony was out, I wanted to stay aggressive and still stay
within the system," Leonard said.
Aldridge led Portland with 21 points, and he grabbed 10 rebounds.
Blazers guard Damian Lillard scored 17 points and handed out 10
assists, but he hit just seven of 18 shots from the floor.
San Antonio led 51-44 at halftime. The Spurs were ahead by six when
Parker left for the locker room with more than eight minutes left in
Leonard was largely responsible for the Spurs' success without
Parker in the half, scoring nine points in the second quarter on
three 3-point baskets. He didn't miss a long-range attempt in the
Aldridge scored 14 first-half points to pace the Blazers.
Portland managed to neutralize Parker in the first quarter before he
was injured. Coach Terry Stotts assigned the 6-foot-8 Nicolas Batum
to guard the 6-2 Parker for the second straight game. Parker
attempted only two shots, missing both.
Batum, who finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds Wednesday, was
primarily responsible for limiting Parker to 14 points when the
Blazers won Game 4 on Monday. Parker averaged 26 points in the first
three games of the series before Batum became the primary defender
The Spurs doubled their halftime lead to 14 points after three
quarters. Duncan scored seven in the third quarter, and Leonard
turned two steals into fast-break dunks that inspired the home
Then it became a rout, and the Blazers were eliminated after a
successful season. Regarded as a marginal playoff contender before
the season, they were the fifth seeded team in the West.
"We got a taste of the playoffs, a taste of success," Stotts said.
"That's something we can build on."
NOTES: Portland G Mo Williams missed his third straight game with a
groin strain. Williams was the Trail Blazers' top backcourt reserve,
averaging 9.7 points a game. ... Spurs F/C Tim Duncan played in his
223rd playoff games. He ranks fourth in league history in playoff
appearances after passing Los Angeles Lakers G Kobe Bryant last
week. The three who rank ahead of Duncan also played most, or part,
of their careers with the Lakers -- Oklahoma City Thunder G Derek
Fisher (252), retired F Robert Horry (244) and former C Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar (237). ... Duncan, 38, averaged only 29 minutes a game
during the regular season. He is averaging 34 minutes in the
playoffs. ... The Trail Blazers were slow starters in the playoffs.
They outscored their opponents in the first quarter in only two of