Maybe playing a Game 7 against the Dallas Mavericks last Sunday was just what the San Antonio Spurs needed.
You would never guess the Spurs had just been in a grueling seven-game series two nights before a 116-92 destruction of the upstart Portland Trailblazers on Tuesday night at the AT&T Center.
Tony Parker had a game-high 33 points with his nine assists, Kawhi Leonard added 16 points and nine rebounds and the Spurs’ bench combined to score 50 points on their way to a 1-0 series lead over the No. 5 seed Blazers.
“I don’t think about past games, all I care about is this game,” Head coach Greg Popovich said. “It was just one of those nights. They (Blazers) will play a whole lot better in Game 2.”
The Spurs opened the game on an 8-0 run and never lost the lead from there. The Blazers fell behind by as many as 29 points despite the fact that LaMarcus Aldridge 32 points, just over his playoff average.
With a heavy focus on the Tim Duncan and Parker duo versus the Aldridge and Damian Lillard duo, it was the Spurs’ tandem that struck first. Lillard scored 17 points but on 6-of-15 shooting with six turnovers.
“I think defensively it was one of our best games, because Portland has a lot of shooters and weapons,” said Parker, who scored 13 points in the first quarter. “I think we will be fine but Game 1 is just Game 1.”
The Spurs’ bench, who had struggled scoring against the Mavericks, came out in full force. The biggest factor was Marco Belinelli, who scored 19 points and was 3-of-5 from 3-point range. Patty Mills added 10 and his native Australian teammate Aron Baynes scored 10 and grabbed seven rebounds.
“(Aron) Baynes was awesome. He gave us some great minutes. Made some plays for us and cleaned up the glass,” said Duncan. “Our guys were real focused and we stuck to our game plan and executed very well.”
The Spurs return to the AT&T Center on Thursday night for Game 2 against the Blazers. Tipoff is slated for 8:30 p.m.