Tony Parker scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a win over the Portland Trail Blazers, 99-83, earning them as well an 8-0 home record, their best start since 2007.
The Blazers had the lead entering into the fourth until Parker went to work, scoring 4-for-4 from the field and the charity line. He stole the ball twice and never committed a turnover. Tiago Splitter had 14 points courtesy of 5-for-5 from the field and 4-for-7 in the foul line. Tim Duncan and DeJuan Blair combined for 20 points and 20 rebounds to aid in the Spurs’ defensive end. In the end, San Antonio outscored Portland 34-18 in the final leg of the game.
The Trailblazers, on the other hand, weren’t as lucky as their main defensive big man Marcus Camby rolled his ankle during a tiff over the ball with Blair with four minutes left in the second quarter. Camby did not return to the game, and hinted that he might miss the next two to three games while the Blazers go on an eight-game road stretch starting with Houston tomorrow. LaMarcus Aldridge led Portland with 29 points, while Raymond Felton scored 13. Gerald Wallace and Wes Matthews each scored 12. Camby was the only Portland starter without a score.
Duncan was only seven points tonight on a 3-for-7 shooting. He is six points away from passing Gary Payton at 26th place in the all-time scoring list.
The Spurs are the only team in the Western Conference with a perfect record at home so far, but is also one of two teams in the West with a winless record on the road (along with Golden State). They play one more home game against the Phoenix Suns before the face the Miami Heat, who as of late has been beaten thrice. The win lifts San Antonio (8-4) back to third spot, just half a game behind Los Angeles and two games behind the West-leading OKC Thunder. Portland, on the other hand, drops to the fifth spot with a 7-4 card.
What has unfolded over the weekend at the NBA Playoffs has pushed me to look back at our fearless forecasts and see which of them still holds.
Lakers vs. Thunder [prediction: Lakers in 5]
This one’s not anymore true, as the Thunder has pushed it so far to a six-game duel. If LA takes the next two games, then the other half of our forecast holds.
Jazz vs. Nuggets [prediction: Nuggets in 6]
Not anymore, it ain’t six games. The undermanned Jazz is in command at 3-1. Denver will have to push for the ultimate jugular by winning the last three games. And if they don’t, our prediction’s busted for this match altogether.
Suns vs. Blazers [prediction: Portland in 7]
With the series tied at 2 games apiece, the only way this prediction fails is if Phoenix aces their next two assignments–assignments that Brandon Roy could foil. His return mixes up all factors into the playoffs, and our forecast might just come through.
Spurs vs. Mavs [prediction: Mavs in 6]
This is the only prediction that I am utterly glad and delighted to be wrong. I’m a big Spurs fan, but at first I really thought the Mavs would be tougher this time around, especially if you look at how last year’s playoff match between them ended. But things have turned out entirely different than our forecasts. Definitely, it won’t be just six games anymore, as the Spurs are ahead 3-1. Dallas will have to win the next three straight games, or their off-season summer officially starts.
Cavaliers vs. Bulls [prediction: Cavaliers in 5]
One more win by the Cavs and our prediction will fully come true. Derrick Rose better pull out his best tricks up from his sleeves, or else their journey ends on the road at Cleveland.
Celtics vs. Heat [prediction: Celtics in 6]
Since they have gone 3-0 already, even before D-Wade took over earlier in their game four atrocity and winning one for the Heat, the Boston Celtics are coming back home for a chance to go for the kill. Unless Miami robs one on the road, the series will end at five games in Boston, for Boston.
Hawks vs. Bucks [prediction: Hawks in 4]
Well, there’ll be no sweep victory for the Hawks in this first round obstacle, as the Bucks bounce back to stay alive in the series. The Hawks are still favored to win this round, but not without facing the fear of the deer.
Magic vs. Bobcats [prediction: Magic in 5]
Definitely, after going up 3-0, Magic will win this series, as no team has bounced back from a 0-3 deficit to win the series. But they will have to fight some more to prove that they did not just fluked their way to the playoffs. One game will at least give them a playoff win, and prove our prediction true.
Since our predictions are two-part (who wins, and in how many games), we’re quite sure that Orlando and Boston are going into the next round. One more set of duels and we’ll get to see how our forecasts went for the first round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs.