The 1993 NBA Playoffs were home to a fantastic NBA Finals (Suns v. Bulls) and some wild games along the way. Today we are going to discuss a first round game in which two Dream Teamers went head-to-head. On now to Game 4 where the fifth seeded San Antonio Spurs held a 2-1 series lead over the fourth seeded Portland Trail Blazers.
The HemisFair Arena was absolutely rocking as the game tipped off in San Antonio. The pace of play early on was quick and good to watch a couple of decades later. The Spurs ran out a fun lineup of Avery Johnson, Sean Elliott, Antoine Carr, Dale Ellis and David Robinson. The Blazers represented the West in the Finals the season before but their cycle as a dominant team was coming to a close, which was evident in this game. Jerome Kersey (who would go on to win the 1999 title with the Spurs) was very aggressive in the first quarter and looked swift. Clyde Drexler was sluggish and we learn during the broadcast that injuries may have been affecting him more than he was leading on.
Portland’s running game finally got going and a 20-8 run to start the third brought the Blazers within three. Mario Elie is on Portland’s bench, which now makes five players from the ’99 Spurs participating in this game, but back to the action. This is a relatively young Spurs team and the youth showed in the third as their emotions got the best of them. Elliott started arguing every call wildly down the stretch of the third as Portland trimmed the lead. Spurs up 74-70 after three.
The Spurs are so clearly the better team but their youth hurt them in this game. Robinson goes a little quiet for a couple stretches, allowing the Blazers to hang around; then of course he accumulates a triple double all of a sudden. Portland doesn’t have anyone that can hang with Robinson, but it must be said that Mark Bryant (21 points, 6 rebounds) did have a strong game. Portland continued to hang around and finally broke through to take the lead on a Drexler and one midway through the fourth. Sean Elliott ties the game at 89 with 1:27 left but both offenses sputter on the last few possessions and a Dale Ellis missed long two meant that this one was headed to overtime.
Spurs coach, John Lucas, made a few changes down the stretch, including playing Willie Anderson over Johnson for basically all of crunch time. Drexler had a mixed overtime. During one impressive stretch he blocked Robinson then scored on the other end to give Portland a lead. Just a few moments later though, nursing a one point lead, he turned the ball over to give the Spurs a chance with 34.2 seconds left. Robinson went quickly with a beautiful move and scored with 31.1 to play. Portland then had a terrible possession that finished with a Terry Porter air ball three. Coach Lucas had made another smart move by inserting Lloyd Daniels into the game for defense and it paid off as the Blazers last possession saw a couple of desperation threes go begging. The Spurs held on for the win, 100-97, and took the series 3-1. Robinson (20 points, 17 rebounds, 11 assists, 7 blocks) was immense and the Spurs bench stepped up when they needed to. San Antonio went on to face the Phoenix Suns, who would beat them in six games on the way to the Finals while Portland was left to ponder its future behind its suddenly aging core.