SAN ANTONIO – Manu Ginobili knew what was at stake for the San Antonio Spurs and his team’s playoff chances. After two straight games of giving up leads late in games, the 40-year-old Ginobili would not let the Silver and Black go down on this night.
Ginobili scored eight straight points in the fourth quarter to lift the Spurs to a 116-105 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers (48-32) at the AT&T Center on Saturday night.
The victory saw San Antonio’s ‘magic number’ reduced to one, setting up a clinching scenario on Monday night. A true team effort saw the Silver and Black move one step closer to making the postseason and going as high as the fourth seed in the Western Conference.
Here is what went good and bad for the Spurs, as well as three standout players: LaMarcus Aldridge, Manu Ginobili, and Rudy Gay.
- San Antonio got even closer to clinching a playoff berth with their win on Saturday night despite the Denver Nuggets beating the LA Clippers earlier in the day.
- Manu Ginobili took his grandpa juice, prune juice, and bran flakes before the game.
- Patty Mills hit big shots when he needed to, none bigger than his four-point play late in the fourth quarter.
- The Spurs got no help from other teams around the league. Houston fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State fell to New Orleans. Despite the win, San Antonio remains sixth in the Western Conference.
- San Antonio had no answer for Damian Lillard, who finished with a game-high 33 points, including two consecutive 3-pointers in the second quarter.
Three Standout Players:
Manu Ginobili: At this point, everyone has seen what he can do. Now, it is just for fun and boy, did the 40-year-old really have fun as he sparked San Antonio in the fourth quarter.
Ginobili scored 10 of his 17 points in the quarter. He would hit back-to-back triples and drive the paint for a layup in the span of two minutes. Ginobili would give the Silver and Black a 12-point advantage, their biggest of the night. This game reminded us all of what makes Manu so special and why he is such an X-Factor for the Spurs.
LaMarcus Aldridge: The Spurs’ leading scorer reminded his former team what he used to do for them by doing the same thing against them on Saturday.
Aldridge scored a team-high 28 points to go along with eight rebounds, shooting 13-of-22 from the field. He banged down low in the post with Portland big men Al-Farouq Aminu and Jusuf Nurkic. He hit from the wing and in the paint, basically, Aldridge did what he has done all season for San Antonio in the absence of Kawhi Leonard. As of late, Aldridge has turned it into overdrive – scoring 29.2 points per game and grabbing 8.9 rebounds in his last 13 games.
Rudy Gay: The Spurs’ other sixth man continues to do what he was brought in to do, becoming a solid second scoring option for the Silver and Black as of late.
Gay came off the bench to score 16 points. He also drove the paint and scored from both the outside and inside. With his last few outings, Rudy is proving to be a very valuable piece to the Spurs’ postseason chances with the season winding down.
The Spurs are now 46-34 on the season and will return to the court on Monday night when they welcome the Sacramento Kings (26-54) to the AT&T Center at 7:30 p.m. CDT