The Blazers got out to a scorching start, mostly riding the three-ball, and even led 23-4 early in the first period. But the mirage of coasting to an easy win on the road in the second night of back-to-back against a Gregg Popovich coached team quickly dissipated, as San Antonio mounted a ferocious comeback. Portland’s lead unraveled to 14, then 6, then suddenly the Spurs were in the lead and looking to go up double-digits. You could blink and see a lead vanish. Midway through the third it looked like San Antonio had things wrapped up and the Blazers were ready to hop on a plane to Oklahoma.
But trailing by 13 late in the fourth, an invigorated Lillard put the team on his back and scored 18 straight points to give the Blazers a few cracks at overtime, but would-be tying threes from Lillard and Anthony Tolliver, including one from Damian that popped in-and-out at the buzzer, were not to be.
Dame finished with a game-high 28 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists - but shot only 9-28 from the floor - while CJ McCollum did most of his damage in the first half and finished with 27 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds.
Here are tonight’s takeaways:
Zach Come Back. Never one to follow trends, the Spurs are just thumbing its nose at the rest of the league’s obsession with three-pointers and it seems to be working out for them. San Antonio attempted only a relatively 1980s-like 22 threes the whole contest - and made only 7 of them - and still put up a cool and efficient 113 points. Instead of bombing away from deep, the Spurs exploited good old-fashioned size advantages, particularly with Portland’s backcourt. DeMar DeRozan and youngsters Dejounte Murray and Derrick White are all long dudes, and with the Blazers already sorely missing one of its most important interior defenders in Zach Collins, San Antonio just kept its foot on the gas headed towards the hoop at all times.
Anthony’s Odyssey. It was in December of 2009 when Anthony Tolliver first signed with the Blazers - joining the club and playing just two games on a call-up from the team’s then-D-League affiliate, the Idaho Stampede - but it wasn’t until October of 2019, tonight in fact, that he scored his first bucket, an angle three early in the first quarter, that completed an odyssey that took him to six different teams over 10 years before returning to the Rose City this past summer. In all, Tolliver did an okay job filling in for Collins, finishing with 5 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and had a team-best +/-, for what it’s worth, of +8.
Portland will wrap up the road trip Wednesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder.