The Portland Trail Blazers didn’t miss Damian Lillard in an earlier outing this week against the lowly Detroit Pistons, but that was not the case on Thursday night against the somewhat-less-lowly San Antonio Spurs. Portland dug themselves a hole early with atrocious defense against a San Antonio squad that’s terminally mediocre on offense most nights. They’d spend the rest of the night trying to dig out. Despite ramping up the energy in the second half, Portland couldn’t score quickly enough to overcome the deficit. They ended up losing 114-83 to drop their record to 11-12, 10-2 at home.
CJ McCollum and Norman Powell led the Blazers tonight, but they scored only 16 apiece. Powell shot 3-13. Ben McLemore hit some threes? I guess there’s that.
The Spurs came out firing three-pointers like they were going out of style. They only connected on a couple at first, but that was sufficient, as the Blazers spent the opening minutes of the game hitting exactly nothing. Portland moved the ball through Jusuf Nurkic—who missed all his shots—or from him to Norman Powell, who also missed all his shots. Robert Covington, of all people, bailed out the Blazers with a three and a tip-in, plus an assist to Powell for a three. That broke the ice, but wasn’t enough to buoy the offense, especially with San Antonio scoring relatively freely on the other end. Portland’s bench unit checked in already overwhelmed on the scoreboard and it didn’t get much better. San Antonio’s threes and run-outs made the Blazers seem downright fragile. They hit 6 triples and 6 layups in the period, leading 32-22 after one.
The second period started with the Blazers letting the Spurs get layups. Lots of layups. To make matters worse, Anfernee Simons turned an ankle landing on Thaddeus Young’s foot. He would not return to the contest...and that was with Lillard already out. That’s about the time CJ McCollum came alive, trying to score and/or set up his opponents. Unfortunately, the Spurs got three lay-ins for every bucket CJ created. And THEN the Spurs started hitting threes again. Portland hit a few long balls too, but holy llamas, the action was ugly. San Antonio finished the first half with 11 made threes. For reference, they average 10 per game. The Spurs led 68-47 at intermission.
The Blazers did show some effort starting the second half. They got up way more shots than San Antonio did. Unfortunately, they missed most of them. The Spurs put up half as many attempts but shot 50%. It pretty much evened out. When you’re down huge, you need more than evening out, though. Both teams spent the rest of the period throwing up bricks or, in San Antonio’s case, throwing away the ball. It didn’t help. A 15-4 run for Portland took most of the quarter, but didn’t get them closer than 16. The score read 84-65, Spurs after three.
To their credit, the Blazers mounted the obligatory rally in the fourth period. Their deeper bench squad put in the effort that the upper-rotation players hadn’t. Forced turnovers and San Antonio’s inability to hit a jumper brought the lead down to 12 with 8:30 remaining. That was where it ended. Bryn Forbes hit a couple threes and the rally was done. As Steve Jones used to say, getting down big requires everything to go perfectly. It didn’t.
Stay tuned for extended analysis of the game.
The Blazers welcome the Boston Celtics to Moda Center on Saturday night at 7:00 PM. Pacific.