The Portland Trail Blazers bounced back from a tough loss to the Miami Heat with a convincing 127-118 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night, in their first game since the NBA Trade Deadline. Despite 30 points from CJ McCollum, it was recent acquisition Rodney Hood that had Moda Center rocking—as he scored 14 points off the bench in his team debut. The Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan led all scorers in the game with 35.
After a back-and-forth first quarter in which both teams shot exceptionally well from the field, the Blazers took a 13-point lead into the break thanks to a 24-9 run to close out the first half. Portland’s lead ballooned to as many as 21, but Rudy Gay keyed a 23-4 Spurs run to tie the game late in the third quarter. The Blazers recovered, however, battening down the hatches during a critical 20-6 run in the fourth—sparked by McCollum—that put the game out of reach for good.
The Blazers offense, particularly in the first half, looked excellent on Thursday night. This was especially good to see following the team’s disjointed effort against the Heat—which can probably be chalked up to the extended layoff. Portland had 70 points by halftime, of which an eye-popping 36 came in the paint. Also in the first half, they shot an even 60% from the field, and recorded 16 assists. Another encouraging sign is the fact that the took care of the ball—only committing eight turnovers on the night.
While six Blazers finished in double figures, it was the big three who did the heavy lifting, combining for 76 of the team’s 127 points. McCollum’s 30 came on 10-21 shooting, including 7-13 from distance. Damian Lillard went for 24, while recording nine of the team’s 26 total assists. Jusuf Nurkic scored 14 of his 22 points in a big first half, while also doing an excellent job of finding his teammates—racking up six assists of his own.
Both big Blazer runs were helped significantly by the Spurs consistently turning the ball over. They had 18 turnovers on the night, which Portland turned into 22 points on the other end. In fact, during the Blazers’ rally in the second quarter, the Spurs turned the ball over on four consecutive possessions. The Blazers not only took advantage of the miscues, they forced the issue. Active hands led to 11 steals, five of which came from Lillard alone.
The New Guy
Hood was an instant spark of the bench, scoring nine of his 14 points in the first half on 4-5 shooting. All told, in 25 minutes he finished 6-7 from the field and also pulled down three rebounds. More importantly, he seemed to fit in pretty flawlessly with the offense, which is a great sign for things to come. Hood looked comfortable and locked in all night—if you didn’t know any better, you’d probably never be able to guess it was his first game with a new team.
The Old Guy
Former Blazer LaMarcus Aldridge looked like he was primed for a career night—he scored 13 in the first quarter and the Blazers had no answer for him defensively. He tailed off significantly after that, however, finishing with only 17 points on an inefficient 7-19 shooting. Luckily for the Spurs, both Gay and DeRozan were able to shoulder the load offensively over the final three quarters to keep the game competitive, but it wasn’t exactly a happy homecoming for the former franchise centerpiece.
The Other Guys
Al-Farouq Aminu had 11 points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes, going 3-5 from the field. His front-court mate Maurice Harkless drew the start, but only played 15 minutes and shot 1-4 from the field in an unremarkable performance.
Jake Layman had another solid showing off of the bench, but the effort was no doubt overshadowed by Hood’s outing. Nonetheless, Jake had 13 points while earning 31 minutes and a couple of floor burns for his hustle.
Evan Turner had six points, three rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes. Meyers Leonard scored five points, knocking down both of his shot attempts in 10 minutes of action.
Zach Collins and Seth Curry each tallied only seven minutes. Neither scored. Collins didn’t play a single minutes in the first half.
The Blazers travel to Texas for a matinee showdown with Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday at high noon.