“It’s not that we are a bad defensive team, we’re an inconsistent defensive team. Which has shown up in various games.” -- Terry Stotts after Sunday’s practice.
I wasn’t so sure about the difference between being a bad defensive team and an inconsistent one, but Monday afternoon I got one answer.
There is really no difference. The Trail Blazers were a consistently bad defensive team all afternoon. And forget about injuries and all the rest, what is left of Portland’s roster is still better than what the San Antonio Spurs used to post a 125-104 win over the Trail Blazers.
The Spurs wasted no time finding a glaring Portland weakness. They came out and ran pick-and-roll after pick-and-roll for LaMarcus Aldridge -- who had seemed to be on his way to his worst NBA season until arriving in Moda Center.
Thanks to Portland’s drop coverage of him, Aldridge got off to a good start and finished with 22 points in 24 minutes on 10-17 shooting.
“Well, LaMarcus made some shots,” Stotts said after the game. “No question. And our goal was to make them take long twos. They did and he made. And we adjusted as the game went along.”
Not much, it seemed.
The Spurs turned the Trail Blazers inside out all day. They shot 53.3 percent from the field, including 45.5 percent from three-point distance. And this is a mediocre shooting team from long range that came into the game shooting 36.3 percent from three.
San Antonio got a whopping 59 points and 22 rebounds off its bench. Portland went into the fourth quarter trailing by just five points but was outrebounded 15-3 in the final period, including six offensive rebounds that turned into 10 second-chance points in the quarter.
This game was a fiasco.
The Trail Blazers were nothing special on offense, either. They made just 43.3 percent of their shots, including just 28.6 percent from three-point range.
Rodney Hood got starters minutes and responded by hitting 9-14 from the field and scoring 21 points. Damian Lillard scored 35 to lead Portland.
The Trail Blazers finish their week with games against Memphis Wednesday and Friday.
And perhaps that team that isn’t bad defensively will show up. So far, all the talk about defensive improvement has been just that -- talk.