A day removed from a loss in Los Angeles and entering Friday without Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Pau Gasol who sat out to rest, the Spurs could have seen a letdown Friday night against Portland. But that was not the case.
Kawhi Leonard posted 33 points — on just 15 shots — Lamarcus Aldridge logged 18 and 14 rebounds, Patty Mills tallied 23 points off the bench and San Antonio ran away with a 110-90 win over the Trailblazers.
The Spurs move to 24-6, including 16-2 on the road with the win.
Portland countered with their own volatile offensive potential behind Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but the Spurs contained them both, albeit in different ways. Lillard totaled 16 points and 10 assists, but San Antonio forced him into a distributor role for much of the night, and many of his points came after the Spurs had already seized a comfortable lead.
As was the case with McCollum. He also notched 16 points, but most mattered not, as the Spurs were already leading by a sizable margin when he scored them.
Myers Leonard also added 16 points for Portland.
What began as a lethargic start from both teams didn’t take long to translate to hot shooting. The Spurs started 1-for-7 shooting before Leonard connected on a deep jumper for an 8-7 Spurs lead, and the teams then began trading baskets. San Antonio snared an 18-15 lead behind triples from Danny Green and Mills, but Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was called for a technical, and Lillard tied it at 18 with a basket and free throw.
The basket-swapping continued, as Mills connected on a 3, but Portland later got buckets from Allen Crabbe and Ed Davis to tie things at 27 apiece after one.
The second frame saw the Spurs pull ahead behind both stifling defense and several Portland turnovers — seven, to be precise. San Antonio outscored Portland 30-18 in the quarter.
The Spurs’ offense had Aldridge to thank for the way they pulled away, even when the 6-11 forward wasn’t scoring. San Antonio ripped off an 11-2 run to balloon their lead to 40-31 following a slick finish from rookie Dejounte Murray, but the Spurs didn’t stop there. Working through Aldridge on the block, Murray later splashed a triple for a 43-33 lead, and Leonard later drilled a corner trey.
But the Blazers closed things out on a positive note, if only a slight one. C.J. McCollum matched Leonard’s 3 with one of his own, and he later stuck back his own miss.
Portland’s Leonard also canned a triple, but so did Mills on his team’s ensuing possession, and Leonard connected on two free throws in the final seconds. The Spurs entered halftime up 57-45.
It wasn’t long before the Blazers awoke on offense in the third frame, but the good news for the Spurs was that theirs was never asleep to begin with. A McCollum triple trimmed San Antonio’s lead to 59-50 and prompted a quick timeout from Popovich, but Dedmon tipped in a Green miss out of the timeout, pushing his team’s lead to 61-50.
And just like in the frame previous, the offense flowed through Aldridge in the third. The former Blazer tallied eight points in the third quarter alone, many of them difficult fallaway efforts. Mills was a flame in the quarter as well, hitting a midrange jumper and triple on consecutive possessions, widening San Antonio’s lead to 83-66.
San Antonio took an 87-72 lead into the fourth quarter.
San Antonio’s Leonard wasted no time thrusting the nail in Portland’s coffin. He canned a triple to start, and later flushed a dunk via backdoor cut and finished on a layup a possession later, and the Spurs then led 96-78.
The Spurs cruised to a victory, made easier after Lillard tweaked his ankle trying for a rebound over Dedmon. He entered the game soon after, but he exited for good minutes later.
Mills drilled his fifth triple on the night to push the Spurs’ lead to 108-87.
It was the story of Leonard, Aldridge and Mills carrying the Spurs to a win on a SEGABABA, fending off emphatically what could have been an off night. Leonard’s 33 comes just a day after scoring 27 Thursday night.
San Antonio returns to action Christmas Day at home against Chicago.