San Antonio Spurs vs. Portland Trail Blazers: Game 4 Grades and Analysis

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistMay 13, 2014

PORTLAND, OR - MAY 12:  Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers reaches in on Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs in the first quarter of Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center on May 12, 2014 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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The Portland Trail Blazers avoided a second-round sweep by beating the San Antonio Spurs 103-92 in Monday's Game 4 at the Moda Center. The Spurs' series lead is now down to 3-1.

Portland was led by a balanced effort from three of the starting five. Damian Lillard scored a game-high 25 points. LaMarcus Aldridge added 19. And Nicolas Batum filled up the box score with 14 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists.

Those three played with the kind of energy and intensity you'd expect from the younger team, and their teammates followed their example on the way to the victory.

The Spurs were led by Tony Parker, who scored 14 points. Tim Duncan was held to 12 points.

Everyone else struggled to get any kind of traction on offense, as the Spurs shot 44.3 percent from the field overall and just 3-of-18 from three-point range.

 

Key Player Grades: San Antonio Spurs

Tony Parker, Point Guard

PORTLAND, OR - MAY 12: Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs speaks with head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs in the first quarter of Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Portland Trail Blazers during the 2014 NBA Pla
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For the first time in this series, Parker was thoroughly outplayed by Lillard. On both ends of the floor, the younger point guard appeared to have the upper hand.

Parker was able to get a few points on Lillard, but didn't do much of anything else, as he finished with only one assist and zero rebounds.

With the series heading back to San Antonio, Parker will need to refocus and turn this matchup back in the Spurs' favor if they're going to close out in Game 5.

Grade: C+

 

Tim Duncan, Power Forward

PORTLAND, OR - MAY 12: Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs during the game against Portland Trail Blazers in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on May 12, 2014 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO US
Sam Forencich/Getty Images

Duncan's 12 points and nine rebounds came very quietly, as he was outperformed by the frontcourt of the Blazers that included Aldridge, Robin Lopez and Thomas Robinson.

The days when Duncan could completely control a game on both offense and defense may be gone, but he's still capable of making an impact, and he didn't do that.

He doesn't have to outperform Aldridge, but San Antonio needs some kind of counter inside.

Grade: C+

 

Kawhi Leonard, Small Forward

PORTLAND, OR - MAY 10: Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs has some words with Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs in the second half of Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Portland Trail Blazers during the 2014 NBA Playo
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Like Parker, Leonard was clearly outplayed in his individual matchup for the first time in the series. Everything he did, Batum did a little better.

He finished the game with 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists, but he wasn't able to prevent Batum from posting better numbers in each of those categories.

Grade: C+

 

Tiago Splitter, Center

May 10, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) defends San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter (22) in game three of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer
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Splitter simply looked out of his league against Lopez and Aldridge. Lopez bullied him on the boards, while Aldridge took it to him in post-ups.

A bigger effort than Splitter's six points and three rebounds will be important if San Antonio is going to end the series in Game 5.

Grade: D

 

Danny Green, Shooting Guard

PORTLAND, OR - MAY 10: Danny Green #4 of the San Antonio Spurs gets introduced before a game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals on May 10, 2014 at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User e
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Green certainly tried to put his imprint on this game, but it probably wasn't the one he wanted.

He put up 11 shots but only made four on the way to his nine points, most of which came in garbage time.

Getting his three-point shot on track would certainly be nice for the Spurs if they're going to make it as far into the postseason as they did last season.

Grade: C-

 

Manu Ginobili, Shooting Guard

May 12, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) drives past Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum (88) during the second quarter in game four of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center. Mandatory Cre
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In what has already been a tough series for Ginobili, this may be rock bottom. He shot just 1-of-6 from the field for two points and did almost nothing to help his team win.

Getting the third member of San Antonio's Big Three going isn't just important in this series, but crucial if the Spurs move on and face either the Los Angeles Clippers or Oklahoma City Thunder.

Those are two extremely explosive teams, and San Antonio will need its top weapons firing off to keep pace.

Grade: F

 

Bench

Despite the struggles of Ginobili and, to a lesser extent, Marco Belinelli, the Spurs bench was still solid thanks to the efforts of Boris Diaw and Patty Mills.

Diaw went 6-of-8 from the field on the way to 12 points but had a terrible time trying to defend Aldridge in stretches.

Mills also hit double figures, with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting.

Grade: B-

 

Key Player Grades: Portland Trail Blazers

LaMarcus Aldridge, Power Forward

PORTLAND, OR - MAY 12: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the Portland Trail Blazers posts up during Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Portland Trail Blazers and the San Antonio Spurs during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on May 12, 2014 at the Moda
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

With his team facing elimination, Aldridge came up with perhaps his most effective effort of the series.

He didn't try too hard to get going from mid-range, but instead established himself in the low post. He was especially aggressive against the defense of the smaller Diaw.

Now, he'll have to bring the same energy and commitment to getting inside to a road atmosphere.

Grade: A-

 

Damian Lillard, Point Guard

May 12, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) shoots between San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) and Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) in the first half of game four of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at th
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Portland's huge win was spearheaded by Lillard, who looked like the best player on the floor for the majority of the game.

He showed the ability to beat his man off the dribble and either finish at the rim or hit mid- to long-range pull-up jumpers.

Parker, Mills and anyone else San Antonio threw at him had no shot against the aggressive play of Lillard.

Grade: A

 

Nicolas Batum, Small Forward

May 12, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum (88) drives past San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (4) during the first quarter in game four of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit:
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Batum had a monster game. So much so, you could argue his impact was bigger than that of Lillard or Aldridge.

He posted the game high in both rebounds and assists in his near triple-double and neutralized Leonard, who's typically an X-factor for San Antonio.

Batum's ability to play point forward takes a ton of pressure off Lillard, allowing him to become a scorer off the ball.

He also spent some time defending Parker, a curveball from Terry Stotts that seemed to pay off.

Grade: A

 

Wesley Matthews, Shooting Guard

May 12, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews (2) drives past San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the first quarter in game four of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center. Mandatory Cred
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Matthews was the one starter for Portland who you could really say had a bad game—at least offensively.

He went 4-of-14 from the field for 10 points but still played his typically solid defense against the wings of the Spurs. His efforts contributed to the struggles of Green, Ginobili and Belinelli.

He also grabbed eight rebounds. 

Grade: C+

 

Robin Lopez, Center

May 12, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez (42) looks to pass around San Antonio Spurs forward Boris Diaw (33) in the first half of game four of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit
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Lopez may have struggled from the field, shooting 4-of-12 for nine points, but he was a beast on the boards for the Blazers.

He grabbed six offensive and six defensive rebounds and ferociously attacked every missed shot and loose ball. 

His style and physicality are perfect complements to the finesse of Aldridge.

Grade: B-

 

Will Barton, Shooting Guard

PORTLAND, OR - MAY 12: Will Barton #5 of the Portland Trail Blazers dribbles the ball during Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals between the Portland Trail Blazers and the San Antonio Spurs during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on May 12, 2014 at the Mo
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

With Mo Williams out because of a groin injury, Barton assumed the role of sixth man and was excellent.

He was a serious offensive boost off the bench, shooting 7-of-13 from the field on the way to 17 points. He showed explosive ability as a slasher and hit a three as well.

If he has another outing like this, Portland may not miss Williams too much.

Grade: A

 

Bench

Barton's bench mate, Thomas Robinson, had a good night as well. The two were in the game together for all but the last few minutes, and both brought tons of energy.

Robinson finished with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting, but his impact mainly came from hustle plays that don't show up in the box score.

The only other Blazer to play more than one minute off the bench was rookie C.J. McCollum, who went 0-of-4 from the field for zero points.

Grade: B

 

What's Next?

May 12, 2014; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews (2) shoots over San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (4) in the first half of game four of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime V
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The Spurs could really use a breakout game from Ginobili in the potential series-ending game. In a few words, he's been off in this round.

On the other end, the Blazers will need to bring the same level of energy and try to use their youth and explosiveness to their advantage again.

Game 5 is set for Wednesday, May 14, at 9:30 p.m. ET.

 

Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report.