A night after claiming perhaps their best win of the season, a short-handed victory against the Clippers in L.A., the Spurs tried to best another playoff-bound team in the Portland Trailblazers. Both teams were without key players, as the Spurs played without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Kawhi Leonard and Portland was without LaMarcus Aldridge.
Tiago Splitter made his return from injury but the Spurs still missed the elite rim protection normally provided by Tim Duncan. With Aldridge out, Robin Lopez owned the glass throughout the night, finishing with 14 rebounds.
The Spurs trailed 18-24 after the first quarter as both teams shot below 40% from the field. The Blazers mitigated their inaccuracy by gathering 6 offensive rebounds and scoring after each of them. San Antonio just couldn't get much going early, missing the playmaking of Tony Parker. Normally, Patty Mills is more than adequate in Frenchy's absence, but he was ice cold to start this one.
Both squads began to shoot better in the second quarter, with Danny Green (16 points), Boris Diaw (11), and Marco Belinelli (20) hitting from outside to keep the Spurs within striking distance. Cory Joseph played solid defense on Damian Lillard, holding him to only nine first-half points, and the Spurs headed to intermission trailing 51-52.
Pop decided to start Patty, Marco, and Manu Ginobili in the second half, and their chemistry, honed as members of the Spurs' Foreign Legion bench rotation, was on full display. The Spurs built an eight point lead midway through the quarter before Portland made a late run to reclaim the lead, 81-79, after three.
Danny started the fourth quarter with back-to-back triples to once again seize momentum, but the Spurs had to withstand hot shooting from Damian Lillard (31 points) and Mo Williams (19) to claim the 111-109 victory. For the second night in a row, Patty Mills went absolutely bananas in the fourth quarter. He finished the game with 29 points despite going only 1-5 from downtown, using midrange jumpers and several Parker-esque floaters to shred the Portland D.
Your Spurs move to 40-15 on the season.