Would it really be a Portland Trail Blazers game if they didn’t test your cardiac health late in the game? In a contest that looked eerily similar to their October matchup all the way until the fourth quarter, Portland took down the San Antonio Spurs 121-116 on Saturday to start their six-game road trip. Here’s what you need to know.
- Big first quarter got Portland’s hopes up: The Blazers could not miss to start this game, with everyone spreading the love to hit 76% of their shots in the first quarter. They shot 7-of-11 from three and had their highest-scoring first quarter of the season. It was a welcomed change from the struggles the team has experienced recently.
- But it isn’t how you start; it’s how you finish: The Spurs looked at Portland’s superb first quarter and thought to themselves, “Why don’t we try that!” They went on to score 35 in the second quarter and 38 in the third, bullying their way inside against an anemic Blazer defense. They forced any Blazer not named Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to make a play offensively and it worked. Luckily, the Blazers stymied the Spurs in the fourth quarter and avoided another tough loss.
- Little’s energy continues to shine: Nassir Little continues to play like a coiled spring. His relentlessness and effort on defense and on the boards was key in keeping Portland in this game late. He still looks very raw and can’t create his own shot, but Portland has to like the energy from Little.
- Another quiet-ish game from Dame: Damian Lillard had 22 points in the win, going 4-for-19 from the field (1-for-9 from three) and earning most of his points from the free throw line (12-for-12), including the game-sealing points. It’s the second-straight game where Lillard hasn’t played at a god-tier level. San Antonio did what they could to anesthetize him, forcing him to share the ball. I would not expect this to become the norm for Lillard.
Portland’s next game will most likely be their last one without Carmelo Anthony. They’ll play the Houston Rockets on Monday.