In the corner of a solemn and somber locker room, Nicolas Batum uttered three words that would make a nice Trail Blazers T-shirt right about now.

The San Antonio Spurs had just pummeled the Blazers for the third consecutive time in Game 3 of their best-of-seven playoff series and Batum snubbed his nose at NBA history. No team has ever rebounded from a 3-0 series deficit? Oh, well.

“Why not us?” he said.


After looking overmatched and overwhelmed over the first 12 quarters of the series, the Blazers finally awoke from a series-long slumber Monday night, defeating the Spurs 103-92 in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals before 20,141 at the Moda Center. The Spurs still hold a commanding 3-1 lead, but the door for a first-of-its-kind comeback nudged open ever so slightly, offering a glimmer of hope for the beleaguered Blazers.

“I thought they played with a passion that we didn’t match,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

Passion. Persistence. Pride. All were uttered Sunday afternoon and Monday night from the Blazers. They didn’t flash much of either in the first three games, but displayed all in spades in Game 4.

Thomas Robinson was blocking shots and diving for loose balls. Will Barton was flying up and down the court for fast breaks and finishing alley-oops. Damian Lillard was posterizing Tim Duncan and punishing the Spurs over and over with relentless drives to the basket. The Blazers were hot from the start, building a six-point lead midway through the first quarter, and held the upper hand for the bulk of the night, leading by as many 20 in a stunning about-face.