Trail Blazers vs Spurs Friday, 03/25/11 AT 07:00PM

Miller-to-Batum Lob Beats Buzzer and Spurs

  1. Written by: ShalamarClark  / avg. rating: 5.0

    It takes less than a second to win a game.

    The Portland Trail Blazers (42-30) found that out in Friday’s 98-96 comeback win over the San Antonio Spurs (57-15), when Nicolas Batum scored on a last chance inbounds lob from Andre Miller with 0.9 seconds on the clock at the Rose Garden.

    “Just a [great] win,” said Trail Blazer Head Coach Nate McMillan. “We work on special situations as much as we can…That’s just a last-second play that we had.”  

    Batum and Miller both led Portland with 21 points as the Trail Blazers rallied back from a 10-point deficit with 5:36 remaining in regulation to set up the last-second heave.

    “Perfect timing,” said McMillan of the lob play. “I thought Miller made the right pass and put it right in front of the rim and all Nic had to do was catch it an put it in the hole.” 

    Batum, who hit three 3-pointers and had four rebounds, was sent to the line as Portland trailed by two. He knocked down both free throws to tie the game at 96-96 with 0.9 seconds on the clock.

    The Trail Blazers’ defense, which had 11 steals, applied tight pressure on the Spurs, who looked for an inbounds pass, but turned the ball over in the process.

    With McDyess in Miller's face on the sideline, Miller found Batum on a switch with a clear path to the rim. Batum beat Tony Parker in space and elevated to the basket to drop in the bucket before the buzzer sounded. 

    “That’s number one [assist],” said Miller, who also had eight rebounds, six assists and four steals. “To be able to come back and win that game like that, it’s one of the best ones in my book.”

    Manu Ginobili finished with 21 points, including four 3-pointers, and had seven assists and three rebounds for San Antonio, which dropped two straight. Parker had 15 points, four assists and four rebounds, but led in turnovers with eight.

    Portland outscored San Antonio 20-8 in the final six minutes after trailing 88-78.  The Trail Blazers surged back after Miller picked Ginoboli that led to a layin from Batum to cut the Spurs’ lead by two, but Ginobili answered with a three. 

    Wesley Matthews, who had 15 points, drove in a layup and Batum hit a pair of free throws, but Parker’s reverse layin and another three from Ginobili the Spurs’ lead back 96-90 with 1:21 left.

    “Lots of things happen that help you win and help you lose,” said San Antonio Head Coach Gregg Popovich. “There are a lot of things in games that happen, an down the stretch is the most important time.”

    Miller willed Portland back down the stretch, scoring on a layup and picking Parker in the backcourt to punch in consecutive lay-ins to come within 96-84 with 30.5 seconds remaining.

    “I was trying to take a risk,” said Miller. “I saw he was kind of close to the sideline…We’re down by four points, they’re just going to drag the game out and win the game, So close, I knew he couldn’t crossover to the sideline, so I set on it perfect.”

    With Matthews glaring down Ginobili at the top of the key as time peeled off the clock, Ginobili attempted a crossover that was denied by Matthews. Matthews raked the ball away and ran the floor on a fastbreak that sent Batum to the line for Portland’s sixth straight win over San Antonio at home.

    “One of the worst [losses] I’ve had in the NBA,” said Ginobili. “Three turnovers in 40 seconds…crazy. And bad defense, too. We gave them two lay-ups…unacceptable.”

    LaMarcus Aldridge ended with 14 point and eight rebounds, while Gerald Wallace also tacked on double-double with 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who shot 46.5 percent from the floor.

    San Antonio hit 51.3 percent with help from Richard Jefferson, who had 11 points and six rebounds, and Tiago Splitter, who recorded 11 point and seven rebounds. 

    “Tonight we hung in there,” said McMillan. “We didn’t panic. We had to get stops and make plays. We didn’t drop our heads.”

    The Spurs had their shooting going early with 11 from Parker to boost a 63.2 percent mark in the first quarter. Aldridge and Matthews scored six points each in the period and helped cap a 7-0 run with a three from Wallace to end 28-24.  

    Wallace continued to roll in the second, where he put up seven points and took advantage of San Antonio, which was held to 8-of-23 attempts in the quarter, to only lead 49-47 at halftime.

    “This is what I’m saying to our guys,” said McMillan. “You’ve got to make plays.”

    The Trial Blazers will begin a three-game trip in Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder (47-21) on Sunday. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 PM.

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