The Portland Trail Blazers (9-22) were able to defeat the San Antonio Spurs (5-26) 134-128 in the second game of a back-to-back series between the two teams. The Blazers held a lead gained in the second quarter throughout the rest of the game. That despite a late push from the Spurs.
The lack of Victor Wembanyama for San Antonio opened up the paint for Portland to attack all night.
The Blazers were led in scoring by Jerami Grant and Malcolm Brogdon who both finished the game with 27 points. The Blazers also had Jabari Walker set a career-high with 25 points in the game.
The Spurs were led by Keldon Johnson who scored 29 points off the bench to lead all scorers.
You can read an instant recap of the game here. Now, here are some observations from the win.
More Opportunities Inside
San Antonio recorded 10 blocks, including 7 from Wembanyama, and allowed just 38 points in the paint for Portland in Thursday night’s game. The lack of Wembanyama protecting the rim in this second matchup allowed the Blazers to flip that massive advantage for the Spurs on its head.
Portland attacked the rim all night, scoring 60 points in the paint and getting blocked just 3 times. Pressure on the interior defense of the Spurs allowed the Blazers to warp the defense in ways that were not possible in the previous outing. This allowed for easier scoring opportunities, both in the paint and as the result of kick outs.
San Antonio shot 42.4% from three in the loss. However, Portland was able to maintain the advantage in that category behind a red-hot 59.3% shooting night of their own. Brogdon, Grant, and Scoot Henderson combined to shoot 12-17 from deep, including some massive baskets from Brogdon in the fourth quarter to help put the Spurs away.
The ability of the Blazers to maintain their hot shooting throughout the game was a major factor in keeping San Antonio’s comeback attempt mitigated. The Spurs were never able to fully shift the momentum in their favor because Portland was always able to answer in a big way.
Continued Excellence From The Young Guys
Walker and Henderson were major factors in this win. Walker had 25 points and 9 rebounds while shooting 63.6% from the field. He was incredible on the offensive glass, where he grabbed 6 of his 9 rebounds. Walker’s ability to finish inside and create extra opportunities for the Portland offense were on full display tonight.
Henderson recorded his third double-double of his career, his second in the past three games. He finished the game with 22 points and 11 assists while adding a career-high 7 rebounds. Henderson was tasked with running the offense for the Blazers at many points during the game. Time and time again he delivered.
Henderson continues to struggle with efficiency, as he shot just 9-21 from the field. He also recorded four turnovers. However, for a 19-year-old rookie, the positives outweighed the negatives in a massive way. Henderson has continued to improve almost on a nightly basis after a slow start to the season, and in this contest especially, he showed plenty of flashes that inspire confidence moving forward.
Portland got off to one of the worst starts imaginable in the first game of this mini-series against San Antonio. After trailing 38-14 heading into the second quarter last night, the Blazers were unable to recover the rest of the game.
This game started off very differently. The two teams were tied at 29 heading into the second quarter, but that was when Portland began to blow past the opponent. A massive scoring outburst saw them take a 15-point lead into halftime.
From there, Portland was able to continue that momentum in the third period, where the lead ballooned to 26 points. San Antonio made a comeback effort late in the third, but the lead proved to be too much to overcome.
Portland allowed San Antonio to cut the lead to single-digits in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late.
The Blazers will begin a massive seven game road trip on Monday, January 1st when they take on the Phoenix Suns at 6:00 p.m., Pacific