The Portland Trail Blazers started their six-game road trip in style on Wednesday night, defeating the San Antonio Spurs 128-112 at the AT&T Center for their third consecutive victory—and fifth in their last six games.
The Blazers turned in a scorching first half, scoring a season-high 73 points, and survived a sloppy third quarter to coast to the finish line. Damian Lillard had another spectacular performance to lead the charge with 37 points, while Keldon Johnson led the Spurs with 25.
Both teams started the game cold from the field, but Portland was able to convert a pair of offensive rebounds into second chance points to gain some early separation. The Spurs eventually settled into their offense and the score tightened, with Keita Bates-Diop serving as the go-to scoring option. Portland made a concerted effort to get Jusuf Nurkic paint touches early, with the Spurs playing without starting center Jakob Poeltl and reserve Zach Collins due to injury.
The Blazers regained the lead midway through the quarter with excellent ball movement on the offensive end, generating quality looks that they were able to connect on. They led 39-28 at the end of the frame, with Lillard leading the way with 12 points. Portland shot 65% from the field, catching fire from both inside and outside after the slow start.
Portland repeatedly attacked the rim to begin the frame against the undersized Spurs, pushing the pace as the lead ballooned to 18. Anfernee Simons led the way despite considerable defensive pressure from Tre Jones. San Antonio forced a pair of turnovers to stop the bleeding, but a Jerami Grant three-pointer had Portland up 56-37 at the seven-minute mark.
Blazer turnovers again kept the Spurs within shouting distance, but Portland’s hot shooting continued. Spurs center Charles Bassey picked up his third foul at the three-minute mark, further exasperating San Antonio’s front court depth. The Blazers held a 73-57 lead at the half, shooting an incredible 66% from the field and 48% from three-point land. Lillard finished the half with 22 points.
Portland committed two turnovers in the first two minutes, after seven in the first half, prompting coach Chauncey Billups to call a quick timeout. The Spurs found success in the paint, and slowly chipped away at the deficit as Portland’s offensive rhythm stalled. San Antonio pulled within single-digits on a Devin Vassell four-point play with 4:42 remaining, and the score 85-78 following an 11-0 Spurs run.
Turnovers continued to plague the Blazers, and the Spurs were within four points with 2:30 left in the frame. Lillard responded with back-to-back threes, and Portland held a a 97-89 advantage when the horn sounded to end the quarter. San Antonio outscored the Blazers 32-24 over the stretch.
Portland turned up the defensive intensity to start the final frame, but the Spurs were able to hit a number of impressive, contested lay-ups. A 6-0 Blazers run pushed the lead up to 14 with just under seven minutes remaining. The Spurs never made another run, and Portland turned to their subs with three-minutes remaining, the game in hand.
Stay tuned for more analysis of tonight’s game here on Blazer’s Edge.
The Blazers’ road trip continues against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. PT from American Airlines Center.