In a fun, close game, the Portland Trail Blazers held off the San Antonio Spurs to win their home opener and move to 2-1 overall. Featuring fast breaks, three-pointers, and some defense mixed in, it was an exciting game that left you hopeful for what this Blazer team could accomplish.
The Blazers mounted another balanced attack tonight, led by Damian Lillard (25 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds), LaMarcus Aldridge (24 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks), Nicolas Batum (11 points, 11 assists, 12 rebounds) and Wesley Matthews (20 points). Robin Lopez (12 points, 6 rebounds) had some very nice moments, playing extra minutes after Joel Freeland left to the locker room (status unknown).
First Quarter: The Blazers looked nothing like the team that laid an egg in Phoenix, playing strongly against Duncan and the Spurs. The Blazers held the lead for much of the quarter on solid shooting and defense. San Antonio closed late, and pulled to within two with a buzzer-beating three pointer by Manu Ginobili.
Portland 21, San Antonio 19
Second Quarter: More solid play from the Blazers! The Spurs struggled to stop the Blazer offensive attack, featuring hot shooting from Aldridge and Lillard, along with nice passing from Batum which led to easy pick-and-roll dunks. Meanwhile, San Antonio scored mostly from the perimeter, Lillard spurred a late run with a few amazing shots, including a falling-down three, and Aldridge finished a fun quarter with a floater as the game clock was running out.
Portland 50, San Antonio 39
I'm lovin' the defense!..
…Grinding it out and making them earn every basket.
Third Quarter: After 8 minutes of back-and-forth play, the Spurs made their run in the second half of the quarter. Three different Spurs scored on three-point plays, cutting the double-digit Blazer lead down to 4, forcing a timeout. From there, the Blazer bench fought back, pushing the lead back to 8. After a crazy possession (featuring a Spurs offensive rebound off a missed free throw, followed by an off-the-ball foul for a three-point play attempt), the Blazers had a chance to get the points back as the clock would down. Lillard for three? Swish.
Portland 82, San Antonio 74
Fourth Quarter: The Blazers tried to pull away, as the lead reached double-digits again. But these are the Spurs, they don't go away. Marco Belinelli swished a fadeaway three-pointer to keep the Blazer lead at 7. This led to a lot of back-and-forth, as neither team could gain any further advantage. In a huge play with 4 minutes left, Tim Duncan took Lopez to the hoop, but Lopez blocked it off Duncan out of bounds. The Blazers still led by 7 with two minutes left when Belinelli swished another three-pointer to cut the lead to 4. Still up 4, Lillard missed a jumper, but the rebound bounced to Matthews... who promptly dunked the ball while Lopez held back Duncan. Belinelli hit yet another three, but Lillard calmly sank two free throws at the other end. The Spurs had no other answers. A delirious crowd cheered for the final seconds, and celebrated a big victory in Blazers' home opener.
Dave's analysis, and Ben's first Media Row report of the new season! The Blazers get a few nights off, and play Tuesday night, at home against Houston.
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