The Portland Trail Blazers didn’t put up much of a fight against a team eying a spot in the 2022 Western Conference Play-In Tournament, getting blown out on the road by the San Antonio Spurs 130-111. The game wasn’t nearly as close as the 19-point final margin indicates.
Looking through the tanking lens, Portland falls to 27-50 - the team’s first 50-loss season since 2007 - and remains in the 6th lottery position “ahead” of the Sacramento Kings, who won in Houston tonight. It also officially eliminates Portland from the playoff picture.
Keon Johnson led the way with a season-high 20 points. Brandon Williams added 17.
The Blazers came out of the gate with the same razzle-dazzle pace that served them well for much of Wednesday’s contest against the New Orleans Pelicans. Johnson had the hot hand early, scoring on a spry and-1 putback, then following that up with a catch-and-shoot three and a soaring two-handed dunk in transition. When Portland was able to run and improvise, good things generally happened. When they were forced to execute a halfcourt offense, not so much. When you’re trying to make more out of less with a young squad, them’s usually the breaks. The Blazers were able to briefly able to capitalize on the late to the party Spurs and strike first, as if to say “Well, we’re not just going to beat ourselves.”
San Antonio got the message and responded immediately. Led by Josh Richardson, who continued to look like Sean Elliott against Portland, the Spurs went on a tear, mostly from beyond the arc. Richardson was a perfect 4/4 from the floor for 9 points in the quarter, and Joshua Primo added 7 points to help catapult San Antontio to a double-digit lead.
Some timely buckets from Reggie Perry and Keljin Blevins in the final minute managed to do some damage control and the Blazers finished the period trailing 34-29.
The Spurs continued to grind the the game down to a moderate pace, which essentially derailed any chance for Portland to make a legitimate comeback. The Blazers struggled the entire quarter to find a groove while San Antonio was burning up the dance floor, quickly restoring their lead back to double-digits and beyond. Richardson and Keldon Johnson continued to the onslaught from deep while Jakob Poeltl benefited from a generous case of being the largest person on the floor by a considerable margin. The Spurs were getting it done at just about every level. Portland managed a few pot shots here and there - Blevins was able to convert on a pair of treys - but it wasn’t nearly enough to stop the bleeding.
Spurs took a commanding 77-49 lead into half time.
Third + Fourth Quarter
Things only went downhill from there. San Antonio held on to a 20-30 point advantage for most of the second half. The Blazers only chipped into it in the final minutes of garbage time.
Stay tuned for analysis from the game, coming soon.
The Blazers will get a day off before getting a rematch with the Spurs Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. Pacific.