The Portland Trail Blazers came out inspired after a listless loss, fending off the San Antonio Spurs on national TV Wednesday night. Putting the blowout loss to the Pelicans in the rear view mirror, the Blazers held their own all night against their possible playoff opponent, giving some hope for an interesting postseason.
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard’s 36 points, 4 assists and 2 steals. He had help from CJ McCollum (26 points, 4 assists), Allen Crabbe (10 crucial early points), Jusuf Nurkic (16 points, 9 rebounds, and late hero/goat moments) and Noah Vonleh (12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists).
The Blazers never let the Spurs pull away in the first half, helped by their back-court. Lillard scored 12 in the first, and Crabbe added 8 quick points in relief. The Spurs spread the scoring around, but found that Portland’s humming offense was tough to shut down. The teams stayed within two possessions of each other in the first half (typically with the Spurs leading). Every time the Spurs tried to pull away, the Blazers made a key shot. San Antonio led by one at the half.
More of the same in the second half. Portland used their revving offense (featuring Lillard, McCollum and Vonleh) to keep the game close throughout. The Blazers battled to a two-point lead after the third. Each time the Spurs made a run, Portland answered. Just after San Antonio regained the lead with under eight minutes left, Portland went on a run. Lillard responded with a big three-pointer, followed by a McCollum three pointer, and a Nurkic dunk on the break. The Blazers pulled away, holding a 7 point lead with 90 seconds remaining. But then things fell apart.
Nurkic missed layups and free throws, and Portland turned the ball over on an inbound pass. But with less than 24 seconds left, grasping to a they nabbed a key offensive rebound. McCollum calmly sank two free throws, but the Spurs hit a three. Up one, Lillard sunk both free throws with 5 seconds remaining. and Portland held onto a tough victory.
The Blazers get a couple nights off to travel to the East Coast, where they will play the Atlanta Hawks Saturday. Both games this weekend will tip off at 3:00 pm! Also, check out full analysis of the Spurs game from Eric Griffith.