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DeRozan Exploits Porous Blazers’ Defense In Spurs Victory

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Despite a 37-point explosion from Damian Lillard, Portland fell to San Antonio 131-118.

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

The Spurs handed the Trail Blazers their fifth loss in six games in decisive fashion on Sunday. Portland’s defense struggled once again, which allowed San Antonio to record 131 points on 60.2 percent shooting from the field. Former Raptors star DeMar DeRozan’s 36-point outburst led the way for the Spurs, but was closely followed by a close-to-perfect 29-point night from LaMarcus Aldridge. Damian Lillard led all scorers with 37 points, but San Antonio’s efficiency was just too much for Portland.

Dominant DeRozan

DeRozan gave the Blazers fits in the second half. Portland put together a solid run of defense after halftime, but the former Raptors star preserved the Spurs’ lead by dropping 18 of his 36 points in the third quarter.

After the Blazers shifted their attention to stifle Aldridge’s output, DeRozan sliced through Portland’s defense like hot knife through butter. He was deadly on drives, and he had everything working once he got in rhythm. In modern NBA terms, it was a rare performance from DeRozan. He crossed the 30-point threshold without attempting a three-pointer.

The Aldridge-DeRozan tandem routinely forced the Blazers’ defense to collapse, which paved the way for the Spurs’ supporting cast to connect on an eye-popping 73.3 percent of their shots from beyond the arc.

Hello, Defense?

Once again Portland’s defense failed to make things difficult for its opponent. San Antonio recorded a field goal percentage of 60.2 percent, and produced 131 points. The Spurs offense was sharp, and poor communication from the Blazers also assisted the final score.

Outside of an inspired stretch of play in the third quarter, Portland struggled to react to San Antonio’s advances. Reserve guards Seth Curry and Nik Stauskas participated in a handful of ugly moments on the defensive end. On more than one occasion Curry or Stauskas would get stuck on a screen. After getting stuck, the communication with the backline was basically non-existent. That combination is a guaranteed way to facilitate easy buckets for your opponent.

Potent Forward Tandem

Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless looked like legitimate scoring options against the Spurs. Aminu put together his second 20-point outing in two games, and shot a near-perfect 4-5 on his three-pointers. Harkless finished the game with eight points, but he made his presence felt in almost every area of the game. Defensively, he recorded three blocks and a steal.

If the Blazers can remedy their problems on defense, this type of production from Aminu and Harkless should result in victories.

Dame & The Incredible Shrinking Bench Production

For the second time in four games, Lillard reached 30 points in a Portland loss. The Blazers connected on all 16 of their free throws, and Lillard led the way with 10 of his own. Lillard also recorded 10 assists, which gave him his third double-double of the season.

It might be Curry’s fit with the Blazers, or his long road back from a significant injury, but the former Mavericks guard struggled once again. Curry produced two points, and committed three turnovers.

Stauskas has recorded a combined six point in his last two games. Outside of a superb night against the Magic, it has been a rough couple weeks for the former Wolverine.

After tonight’s loss, Zach Collins has connected on just one of his last eight attempts from beyond the arc. It wasn’t all bad from the second-year big man against the Spurs. Collins avoided foul trouble, and completed a nice post move over Jakob Poeltl.

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The Blazers return to action on Tuesday with a visit to Dallas to face the Mavericks.


—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com