In the first-half of last night’s matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers, the Trail Blazers got out to an early lead an enjoyed a quality half of basketball. They led by as many as 13 points, played solid defense, and had a 5-point lead at halftime. However; things turned sour in the second half and the Spurs ran away with the game by a final score of 110-94.
Both teams’ leading scorers sat due to injury (Kawhi Leonard for San Antonio and Damian Lillard for Portland). Jonathon Simmons led the Spurs with 19 points off the bench, and CJ McCollum led all scorers with 29 points for the Trail Blazers.
Some first-half warm and fuzzies:
#str8☝ pic.twitter.com/K19qPOJilz— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 31, 2016
Check that: Spurs have 14 turnovers in first half.— Jason Quick (@jwquick) December 31, 2016
For third straight game, Blazers putting together another decent defensive performance. Spurs held to 47 points and 41.7 percent shooting— Jason Quick (@jwquick) December 31, 2016
Then back to reality in the second-half:
Spurs 80, Blazers 73: end of third quarter. SA outscored POR 33-21 in the quarter to take 7-point lead. 27 points for @CJMcCollum.— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) December 31, 2016
Blazers being outrebounded 40-17.— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) December 31, 2016
Coach Terry Stotts on what went wrong in the second-half:
The Oregonian’s Mike Richman wrote about the team’s struggles:
Perhaps the most troubling part of the Blazers' struggles isn't the lack of concrete answers. It's that the pressing questions keep shifting.
Some of the issues are obvious. After showing signs of improving on defense in the second half of last season, the Blazers have taken a major step back in 2016-17 and are entrenched as the worst defensive unit in the league. This was never going to be a defensive juggernaut, but the significant regression is troubling.
The occasional offensive problems are more puzzling. The Blazers are still one of the top 10 offenses in the NBA in terms of points per possession, although the crisp ball movement that defined Blazer basketball a season can disappear for stretches.
On any given night it could be anyone of a handful of issues from stagnant ball movement, to weak defense, to lack of scoring balance. The Blazers have been searching for consistency all season and are yet to find it.
The Trail Blazers (14-21) are off today before heading to Minneapolis to to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves (11-22) on New Year’s day. Damian Lillard is once again expected to miss the game with a sprained ankle.