SAN ANTONIO — The Portland Trail Blazers arrived at the AT&T Center on Thursday night to find a snake hanging out in the locker of reserve forward Thomas Robinson.
“I screamed,” Robinson said.
The snake turned out to be non-poisonous. However, the San Antonio offense, led by 20 points from forward Kawhi Leonard, was lethal enough to record a 114-97 victory, giving the Spurs a 2-0 lead in the NBA Western Conference semifinal playoff series.
The Spurs won their past three playoff games by an average of 21 points.
Portland trailed by 20 points in the second quarter but cut the deficit to eight with 5:37 left in the game on a 3-point basket by forward Nicolas Batum. The Trail Blazers then watched San Antonio take command again on consecutive jump shots by guard Tony Parker and Leonard, the latter a 3-pointer.
The Spurs converted 12 of 20 3-point attempts, led by Leonard’s 4-for-4 effort.
Parker finished with 16 points and 10 assists. Reserve guard Manu Ginobili scored 16 points, and center Tiago Splitter added 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Leonard, in his third NBA season, often defers to Parker, Ginobili and forward Tim Duncan, the veterans who have won three NBA championships together.
Those three, plus coach Gregg Popovich, try to get Leonard to shoot more. Leonard attempted a modest nine shots Thursday, hitting eight, but he did not hesitate when given the opportunity.
“We tell him to be more aggressive,” Parker said. “Don’t worry about us.”
Popovich said that accepting the freedom to shoot takes new players some time.
“Even Timmy 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.”
Batum led Portland with 21 points, two more than guard Damian Lillard.
Forward LaMarcus Aldridge scored 16 but missed 17 of 23 shots from the field, including consecutive dunks in the second quarter.
San Antonio led by three points after the first quarter, then carved up Portland for 41 points in the second quarter to take a 70-51 edge at halftime.
The Spurs assisted on 12 of 17 baskets in the second quarter. They scored on 11 consecutive possessions, beginning with the last two of the first quarter. They produced 25 points in the first five minutes of the second quarter.
Reserve forward Boris Diaw initiated the second-quarter push, scoring seven points in a span of 46 seconds on three driving shots and a free throw.
San Antonio’s 3-point marksmen then took a turn. Guard Danny Green made two 19 seconds apart. Reserve guard Marco Belinelli added two in 33 seconds.
“The onslaught at the beginning of the second quarter was obviously the turning point in the game,” Portland coach Terry 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’ subs, led by Ginobili, accounted for 50 points, matching their total from Game 1 of the series.
During the decisive second quarter Thursday, San Antonio beat Portland 12-2 on second-chance points and 10-0 in fast-break scoring.
Even so, the Blazers gave themselves a chance in the fourth quarter until Parker and Leonard put up a stop to it with their jump shots.
“There’s no panic,” Batum said. “We know we’ve done badly the past two games. Now we go home for two games.”
NOTES: Portland F Thomas Robinson and Portland G Will Barton figured Spurs G Danny Green must have been the culprit behind the snake in the Blazers’ locker room because he owns two boa constrictors. “He’s the No. 1 suspect,” Barton said. Green said he had nothing to do with the snake. … San Antonio general manager R.C. Buford was presented with the NBA Executive of the Year award. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said the award was “absolutely deserved and long overdue.” … After Portland was blown out by San Antonio on Tuesday, players from both teams said the Blazers would learn a lesson. Blazers F LaMarcus Aldridge contrasted the teams, saying, “Most of the guys on our team haven’t even been in the second round, and they’ve won championships. I think they definitely came out and they let us know how it’s going to be.”
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