Scorching Spurs Too Hot for Blazers to Handle
SAN ANTONIO – Damian Lillard and DeMar Derozan exchanged 30-plus scoring efforts, and LaMarcus Aldridge wasn't far behind with 29, but it was the home team that won out, as San Antonio claimed a 131-118 victory Sunday night in front of a sellout crowd of 18,354 at AT&T Center.
"LaMarcus played like an All-NBA player and DeRozan played like an All-NBA player," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "Those two guys are great offensive players and they got on track tonight. And the other guys made threes. Going into this game, we said they've got two All-NBA players and everybody else shoots the three, that's kind of what happened defensively."
With the loss, the Trail Blazers drop to 13-10 on the season and 5-6 on the road. Portland has now dropped five of their last six games and seven of their last 10.
Both teams entered Sunday night's game needing a win after struggling mightily over the last 10 games, so it was no surprise to see a close contest early on.
But in a game against teams ranked 29th and 30th in defensive rating over the last 10 games, it was only a matter of time before one team made a push. And with Evan Turner sitting out the game with a sore right Achilles, leaving the bench unit without their leader and primary ball handler, San Antonio was able to take advantage, using a 17- run early in the second quarter to take the first double-digit lead of the night at 49-37.
But thanks to back-to-back three-pointers from Moe Harkless on Portland's next two possessions, the Trail Blazers were able to swing momentum back in their favor while cutting San Antonio's lead to seven by the intermission.
That momentum stayed with Portland through the first half of the third quarter. With Al-Farouq Aminu and CJ McCollum combining to score 17 points in the first six minute of the second half and Lillard adding a stepback jumper and a dunk, Portland took their largest lead of the night at 79-72 with 6:12 to play in the quarter.
But the Spurs, largely thanks to the play of their bench, finished the third by outscoring Portland 25-11 to take a 97-90 lead into the fourth and final quarter.
Portland was able to get the deficit to five points after a Lillard three-pointer at the 8:03 mark, but they would get no closer than that. The Spurs would go on a 19-8 run over the next four and a half minutes to take their largest lead at 126-110 after an Aldridge turnaround jumper with 3:37 to play to effective end the game, especially with the home team shooting 60 percent from the field and a ridiculous 73 percent from three.
"It's definitely been a struggle," said Aminu. "Teams have been able to score at a highly efficient rate pretty easy the last couple of games. I like the way that we started the game, we had a couple of steals, guys getting on the floor -- we even showed that at halftime. We just have to make sure that we sustain. I think sometimes we just get happy and start thinking you don't have to work hard for it or whatever the case might be. We've just got to learn how to do it for four quarters. That's what we're going to need to do in order to win games."
Lillard led all scorers with 37 points (10-10 FT) to go with a game-high 10 assists on the night. CJ McCollum added 24 for the road team on 11-for-22 shooting.
Derozan scored 18 of his season-high 36 points in the third quarter. Aldridge, Portland’s second all-time leading scorer, netted 29 points while shooting 11-for-15 from the floor.
Aminu matched the season high he set two nights ago vs. Denver with 20 points on 7-for-9 shooting to go with nine rebounds. Aminu has scored 20 points in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.
In his 11th game of the season, Maurice Harkless tallied eight points, seven rebounds and three blocks in a season-high 34 minutes.