The Portland Trail Blazers fell today to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 3 of their 2017 NBA Summer League schedule. The 99-85 loss was punctuated by turnovers, a torrid game from Spurs guard Bryn Forbes, and a pair of injuries to key Portland players Losing Zach Collins and Pat Connaugton cast a pall over the afternoon that not even a double-double by Caleb Swanigan could lift. Both players returned to the bench following their mishaps, though neither played after. No word has come yet regarding prognoses, but we’ll keep you updated in our injury thread.
As has been their Summer League habit, the Blazers got off to a slow start in this game. Exterior marksman Forbes showed off his driving ability with two early layups, further confusing a Portland defense that already had trouble covering the perimeter. A couple of long jumpers later and San Antonio had rattled off a 10-0 run, taking a 12-2 lead. Turnovers kept the Blazers from getting up attempts, let alone responding in kind. Swanigan rode to the rescue mid-period with a three-pointer and a dunk. This allowed Portland’s offense to breathe. They ran, converted easy layups, and suddenly they were back in it. Free throws and difficulty with screen plays kept them from making up the entire deficit, but they remained in contact. San Antonio led 25-19 after one.
The Blazers went inside-outside to start the second period, scooping in a layup and splashing a three, just as designed. Once again their defense let them down as San Antonio blasted them with deep shots in open space. When the Blazers got tight on them inside, the Spurs earned free throws. Either way, they scored. Once again Portland got a mid-quarter surge, this time from Collins and Jake Layman scoring inside. Pat Connaughton had to leave the party, tweaking his hamstring and heading to the locker room. Then Collins took the bench grimacing as a trainer worked on what would later be described as a quad contusion, That took half the heart out of Portland’s defense and the Spurs began scoring with abandon. San Antonio ended the half shooting 7-15 from beyond the arc and held a 54-41 lead at the break.
Neither Collins nor Connaughton returned to the court for the second half. The Blazers couldn’t withstand that big of a bite out of their already-anemic offense. Any pretense of coherent defense was already gone, ground to powder under the heels of Forbes’ sneakers. San Antonio converted four layups and a pair of three-pointers in the first six minutes of the third. Those shots alone exceeded Portland’s entire production. The Spurs’ lead ballooned to 20, settling in at 77-59 as the third period ended.
Portland’s now-makeshift lineup made a nice run in the fourth. R.J. Hunter and Nick Johnson buried threes to frost a cake primarily built out of layups and free throws. The Blazers even threw on a full-court press to disrupt the rhythm. The Spurs got shook for a minute, but it didn’t end up mattering. Turnovers and lack of overall defensive integrity doomed the comeback effort. San Antonio ended up just shy of 100 points in the shortened, Summer League format as the Blazers went down 99-85.
Forbes got rich off of three-pointers today, connecting on 6-11 from distance on his way to a tournament-high 35 points.
San Antonio committed 20 turnovers but Portland outdid them with 27.
The Blazers shot well for the first time all week, posting 48% from the field and 47% from the arc. It didn’t matter when they allowed 51% and 44% respectively.
Portland might have made up the difference with a 26-17 advantage in free throw attempts, but they hit only 16 of those 26, for 61.5%.
Swanigan posted another double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Stay tuned for reports and interviews from David MacKay in press row plus analysis from Steve DeWald on site.
Portland’s Summer League 2017 record stands at 1-2. The date and time of their next game are yet to be determined, as they’ll now swing into the “playoffs” portion of the tournament, which begins tomorrow.