Trail Blazers Drop Another At Home, This Time To Spurs

by Casey Holdahl
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The Portland Trail Blazers fell to 16-15 overall and 7-9 at home this season with a 93-91 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in front of a sellout crowd of 19,393 Wednesday night at the Moda Center.

"I thought it was a well-played game by both teams," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "I was really proud of our defense throughout the game. To force San Antonio into 22 turnovers is uncharacteristic for them. We struggled with some difficult shooting and still had a chance to win the game. It’s disappointing but again, I was proud of the way we competed and especially the way we defended."

The loss breaks a two-game winning streak versus the Spurs and drops the Trail Blazers into a three-way tie for sixth-place in the Western Conference with the Thunder and Nuggets.

After trailing for most of the first half, the Trail Blazers used a 16-4 run, with 10 of those coming from Jusuf Nurkić, to take a 64-61 lead with 4:41 to play in the third quarter. While San Antonio would reclaim the lead by the end of the third, Portland scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to take their largest lead of the night at 80-74 with 8:58 to play in regulation.

The rest of the gmae would mostly consist of both teams trading baskets, though the Spurs would shoot 47 percent from the field in the fourth compared to 36 percent for the Trail Blazers to come away with the victory.

Portland had plenty of opportunity to either tie or win the game with just over 15 seconds to play, but McCollum would have a shot attempt of a drive blocked by LaMarcus Aldridge and Evan Turner had the ball poked away on the ensuing possession, leaving the Trail Blazers with less than three seconds to get a shot off. McCollum would get a three-pointer off before the end of regulation, but it would not find the mark, as did none of his seven attempts from deep Wednesday night.

"I thought it was going in," said McCollum of the last attempt of the game. "It felt good coming off my hands, 2.3 seconds left, somewhere around there, so I knew I had two dribbles. Once I turned, got squared and let it go, slightly short."

TOP SCORERS

Damian Lillard led the Trail Blazers with 17 points on 6-of-17 shooting from the field, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 34 minutes. Lillard left the game in the third quarter with a right quad contusion, though he would return, albeit with limited effectiveness.

"If I could move, I’m sure you guys know I would have been a lot more aggressive and I would have been a lot more hands-on with the end of that game," said Lillard, "but I did what I could."

Jusuf Nurkić went 7-of-12 from the field for 15 points to go with six rebounds and a block in 25 minutes. The 7-0 center out of Bosnian and Herzegovina has shot 67 percent from the field in his last two games.

Both Shabazz Napier and Evan Turner added 14 points. CJ McCollum rounded out Portland’s double-digit scorers with 13 points on 5-of-22 shooting to go with six assists and five rebounds in 38 minutes.

LaMarcus Aldridge led all scorers with 22 points to go with eight rebounds, three blocks and an assist in 36 minutes. Pau Gasol put up the only double-double of the game with 20 points and 17 rebounds while also handing out five assists and blocking two shots.

Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili each added 10 points off the bench.

LISTEN UP

YOU CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN

Long owners of one of the best home-court advantages in the NBA, the 2017-18 Portland Trail Blazers have had a difficult time winning at the Moda Center this season. Wednesday's loss to the Spurs was the Trail Blazers' fifth-straight loss at home, which is just the twelfth time in franchise history that the team has lost that many consecutive games at home. Their record for most consecutive home losses is eight, which was a part of their 13-game losing streak to end of the 2012-13 season.

"It's unfortunate," said CJ McCollum of Portland's woes at home this season. "We're playing as hard as we can, coaches are giving us the game plan, we're executing to the best of our abilities. Ball's just not going in the basket."

Portland has now lost nine games at home this season, just seven fewer than they lost at the Moda Center all of last season.

SEEING RED

Reaction from both players and the fans to the Trail Blazers’ new “Statement” jersey has been mixed ever since Nike debuted the new uniform option of all 30 teams prior to the start of the 2017-18 season. While Nike’s take on Portland’s standard white “Association” and black “Icon” jerseys kept those options relatively unchanged from the previous adidas versions, the red alternate is a significant diversion from the the previous iteration. Given that, it’s understandable that options about the red “Statement” jerseys have been more diverse.

Though even fans who liked the new look, which features a brighter red than the previous option and a diagonal black sash, had seen just about enough of the “Statement” uniform after the team lost their first four games, all at home, while wearing the alternate.

Despite their winless record, the Trail Blazers once again wore their “Statement” uniform Wednesday night versus the Spurs, though unfortunately, the result was the same. With the loss, the Trail Blazers are now 0-5 wearing their "Statement" uniforms this season, prompting some to wonder what the statement is that they're trying to send.

NIGHTLY NOTABLE

• Portland outscored the Spurs in the paint, 46-44, and in fast break points, 10-7.

• The Trail Blazers forced San Antonio into 22 turnovers, the season high for a Portland opponent.

• The Trail Blazers had 12 offensive rebounds leading to 20 second chance points while the Spurs had nine offensive rebounds and scored four second chance points.

• Portland tied its season high with 12 steals.

• Shabazz Napier has shot above 50.0% from the field while making at least four field goals in each of the last five games.

NEXT UP

The Trail Blazers will have one more chance to add to their win a total at the Moda Center before going on an extended holiday break by hosting the Denver Nuggets Friday night in the first game of a back-to-back. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on NBC Sports NW and Rip City Radio 620 AM.