SAN ANTONIO — Tony Parker had 33 points and nine assists and the San Antonio Spurs never trailed in a resounding 116-92 victory over Portland, bullying the younger Trail Blazers in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals Tuesday night.
Kawhi Leonard had 16 points and Tim Duncan added 12 points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio.
More importantly for the Spurs, their bench contributed mightily after being virtually non-existent in the series against Dallas.
Marco Belinelli had 19 points and the Australian connection of Aron Baynes and Patty Mills had 10 points apiece.
The Spurs had their most complete game of the postseason, playing with the flair and fluidity that resulted in the league’s best regular season record.
Portland, meanwhile, didn’t come close to resembling the confident and sharp-shooting group that upset Houston in the opening round.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 32 points and 14 rebounds and Damian Lillard had 17 points for Portland, but the All-Star duo combined for just 17 points in the first half as San Antonio built a 26-point lead.
Lillard was pushed out of the paint by 6-foot-7 Leonard early in the game and was nearly knocked off his feet defensively by a series of blistering picks.
It wasn’t any easier physically for Aldridge, who opened the game shooting 1 for 5 against Tiago Splitter and Baynes.
Splitter had an early steal on a pass to Aldridge and nearly had a second when he poked a dribble away as the 6-11 forward attempted to push his way into the block. Splitter hit the court in a failed attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds, but it mattered little as the tone had been set for a long night for Aldridge and the Trail Blazers.
Duncan left the game with 4 minutes remaining in the first quarter after picking up two quick fouls, but the Spurs increased their lead in his absence thanks to big bench contributions.
Baynes had an immediate impact after playing only the final 6 minutes of San Antonio’s Game 7 victory over Dallas. He scored four points quickly and continued the physical defense against Aldridge that Splitter established.
Belinelli finished 3 for 5 from 3-point range, leading the Spurs’ bench to leap to their feet in loud celebration after the Italian guard’s struggles in the opening series. After going just 4 for 7 on 3-pointers against Dallas, Belinelli opened the game by hitting his first three attempts from long range.
The Spurs scored the opening eight points from close range as Portland missed its first six attempts from a variety of spots on the court.
Parker, who had 32 points in Game 7 against Dallas, scored 13 points in the first quarter on a series of drives and capped it with a corner 3.
NOTES: San Antonio and Portland had not met in the playoffs since the Western Conference finals in 1999, when Sean Elliott made a dramatic 3-pointer with 9 seconds remaining to win Game 2 and spark a series victory. Dubbed the “Memorial Day Miracle,” Elliott made the game-winning shot after catching a pass, turning with his heels hovering above the out-of-bounds line and firing a high-arcing shot over a hard-charging Rasheed Wallace. The Spurs would go on to win their first NBA title that season. . Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen was in attendance as was NBA super fan Jimmy Goldstein, who was dressed in his trademark leather outfit and hat. . Ginobili was issued a technical foul by Tony Brothers after slamming the ball to the court following a traveling violation with 1:23 remaining in the first quarter. . Entering the series opener, Duncan had played as many postseason games (218) as the entire Portland roster.