With the exception of a pair of short-lived spurts of San Antonio Spurs separation late in the first and fourth quarters, nearly the entire Friday night contest between the Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers was played within a two-possession scoring differential. True to form, after a pair of Manu Ginobili triples and a Tony Parker layup gave the Spurs a six-point lead with 1:21 left in regulation, Andre Miller keyed a 6-0 Blazers run (aided by a critical late Spurs turnover) to knot the game at 96 with just one tick left on the clock.
After 47 minutes and 59 seconds of nip-and-tuck basketball, the game came down to one last Portland possession. Miller triggered the inbounds pass, and here's what happened:
Bang. Game, Blazers.
The conversation's cut off in the clip above — you can catch a longer version of the play elsewhere, thanks to the fine folks at The Hoop Scene — but Blazers color analyst Mike Rice pretty much called the play that Portland coach Nate McMillan would draw up, saying he liked "a back-pick and an alley-oop to a big guy" off the inbounds. As always, Sebastian Pruiti's got the blow-by-blow breakdown of the final play over at NBA Playbook, where he credits McMillan's call but also chides Spurs coach Gregg Popovich for leaving the lane totally unprotected against a back-door lob.
Lost in the shuffle a bit? The pitch-perfect pass from Miller, which Friday night hero Nicolas Batum (who also drained two free throws to tie the game with 0.9 seconds left, setting up the game-winning possession) called "the easiest lay up I had to make" in a postgame tweet. Miller delivered the ball on a silver platter, and Batum dropped it in before the dawning of the red light.
With the win, Portland (42-31) holds serve over the New Orleans Hornets, who also won Friday night, maintaining a half-game lead for the sixth seed out West. On the short end of the stick, the Spurs (57-15) lose a game in the standings to the Los Angeles Lakers, who won their sixth straight game Friday night. San Antonio's lead in the race for the conference's top seed is now five games with 10 games remaining in the season.
International readers ("Int'l read'rs"): If the clip above isn't rocking for you, please feel free to peruse the buzzer-beating elsewhere, thanks to our friends at the National Basketball Association.