The Trail Blazers suffered their second loss in three games as the Spurs claimed a 125-104 victory on Monday. The Spurs bench erupted for 59 points in the victory, leaving the undermanned Blazers in the dust. Damian Lillard, who logged 36 minutes in the 21-point loss, notched 35 points and passed Kobe Bryant on the NBA’s all-time three-pointers list.
Here is a second look at the Spurs’ win over the Blazers.
Rodney Hood, who took over CJ McCollum’s place in the starting lineup, started the game on fire. The former Duke standout scored himself or was a part of the Blazers’ first 10 points. He was comfortable with the ball and kept his head up in search of his teammates. Along with Hood, Lillard and Enes Kanter found repeated success off pick-and-roll actions. The Spurs did not make it a point to get the ball out of Lillard’s hands and he absolutely torched LaMarcus Aldridge in two-man actions with Kanter.
The Spurs bounced back quickly when Patty Mills entered the game. The scrappy reserve guard was shot out of a cannon off the bench. The former Blazers guard produced a quick points and he was pesky on the defensive end. Fueled by their energized second unit, the Spurs finished the first frame with a 32-28 lead.
Anfernee Simons, who entered the game after Lillard picked up his second foul late in the first quarter, started the second quarter with a three-pointer that cut the Spurs’ lead to a single point. The Spurs backcourt countered with continuous movement on and off the ball. Mills, who scored five in first, notched another eight points in the second frame. In the frontcourt, Aldrdige was connecting from all his favorite spots. Working in pick-and-pop actions, Aldridge carried his midrange effectiveness over from the second quarter. For the Blazers, Harry Giles and Carmelo Anthony were active on the offensive end. Giles had a phenomenal offensive rebound early in the quarter that was quickly converted into a three-pointer from Melo.
Despite a strong late-quarter surge from the Blazers, that triggered a 9-0 Portland run, the Spurs’ hot shooting from beyond the arc kept them out in front. Fueled seven three-pointers on just 13 attempts in the first two quarters, the Spurs headed to the locker room with a 59-54 advantage.
The free-flowing first half was shelved by both teams in the third quarter. The Spurs’ defense tightened underneath and the Blazers did a better job rotating on to perimeter shooters. Portland’s improved defensive effort was assisted by a small-ball lineup that was utilized after Kanter headed to the bench after four minutes clicked off the clock in the third quarter. Derrick Jones Jr. was the biggest benefactor of the Blazers’ shift. The former Heat forward generated points on the break and swarmed ball handlers on the defensive end. With just under three minutes to go, the Blazers temporarily re-claimed the lead with a 80-78 advantage.
In the final moments, the Spurs strung together a sequence of stops and solid offense to finish the quarter with a 87-82 lead.
The Spurs, after struggling from distance in the third quarter, could not miss a three-pointer in the fourth quarter. Buoyed by three-pointers from Mills and Rudy Gay, the Spurs reeled off a 8-0 run in the first 90 seconds of action. Following a quick timeout, Hood and Simons did their best to pull Portland level with outside shots of their own. From there, the Spurs’ steady stream of points proved to be too much for the Blazers. Trailing 118-101 with under four minutes to go, coach Terry Stotts turned to the deep bench as the Spurs cruised to a 21-point victory.
Hood’s Big Day
Hood, who had scored 18 total points entering Monday’s contest, recorded 21 points against the Spurs. For the first time since his Achilles injury, he was patient and confident in his offense. With the ball in his hand, Hood dribbled to his spots with ease and established himself against smaller opponents. Inside the arc, he looked unstoppable with his fadeaway jump shot.
The Blazers have plenty to worry about with Jusuf Nurkic and McCollum out of the lineup. But Hood’s ability to generate points in the starting lineup might not be among the issues on that list.
The Blazers did not have an answer for the Spurs’ perimeter offense. San Antonio effortlessly generated uncontested shots with simple screens and decisive passing. Portland’s issues were firmly on display when the second unit was on the floor. Off the bench, Mills and Gay shot a combined 10-15 on their three-pointers. The entire Blazers roster combined for 10 three-pointers on Monday. In regards to second-unit scoring, the Spurs’ bench ran away with this one to the tune of a 34-point advantage.
The Blazers’ struggles were not limited to just the perimeter. In the frontcourt, LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl looked like superstars. Aldridge feasted on midrange looks and Poeltl obliterated Portland’s post players on both ends of the floor. The Spurs shot 53.3 percent from the field and won the rebounding margin by 14 boards.
The Blazers return to action on Wednesday to face the Grizzlies.