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Blazers Sizzle Early, Fizzle Late in Loss to Spurs: Post-Game Roundup

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After holding a double-digit first-half lead, the Trail Blazers fell apart in the second half and were routed by the Spurs in San Antonio.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

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:

Then back to reality in the second-half:

Coach Terry Stotts on what went wrong in the second-half:

video via CSN NW

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.