Spurs stay hot to blaze trail in Portland series
The San Antonio Spurs continued their run of hot form to trounce the Portland Trail Blazers 114-97 on Thursday and take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semi-finals series.
The Spurs, enjoying home-court advantage throughout the playoffs courtesy of the best regular-season record in the league, have won their last three playoff games by an average of 21 points.
Portland trailed by 20 points in the second quarter but rallied briefly to cut the deficit to just eight with 5:37 left in the game.
The Trail Blazers, however, were unable to respond a second time after San Antonio regained control on consecutive jump shots by guard Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard, the latter a three-pointer.
Leonard, in his third NBA season, often defers to Parker, Manu Ginobili and forward Tim Duncan, veterans who have won three NBA championships together.
Those three, plus coach Gregg Popovich, are trying to get Leonard to shoot more with Popovich saying that newer players needed some time to accept a freedom to shoot.
"Even Timmy (Duncan) deferred when he first came here to David (Robinson) - for about 2 1/2 days," Popovich said.
"David understood who Timmy was. In Kawhi's case, he's got three veteran players out there. He has come into his own, so to speak."
Portland coach Terry Stotts said the early San Antonio run had proved too much to overcome.
"The onslaught at the beginning of the second quarter was obviously the turning point in the game," Stotts said.
"Boris Diaw during that stretch was making plays that kept that group (of reserves) afloat. Their bench does a great job of coming in and having an impact on the game."
The Spurs were taken to seven games by Dallas in the first round of the playoffs but have suddenly hit form as they head to Portland for Game Three on Saturday.