The Spurs took on the struggling Portland Trail Blazers for the second time in a week, this time at home. Each team was missing their best player with Kawhi Leonard recovering from a stomach bug and Damian Lillard still dealing with a sprained ankle suffered last Friday against San Antonio.
For the second game in a row, the defense was almost nonexistent to start as Portland took a quick 19-11 lead on a 10-0 run less than five minutes into the game. After a timeout, Danny Green hit his second three to temporarily stop the bleeding, but the Blazers continued their hot shooting while the Spurs couldn’t hold on to the ball. By the end of the quarter, the good guys were fortunate to only be down 32-22, with 9 (!!!) turnovers and Portland shooting 65.0%.
Desperate to find something that worked, Pop inserted DeJounte Murray as the two-guard for a few minutes early the second quarter, but the Spurs remained cold. After struggling to get within single digits most of the half, they finally started playing with some aggression in the last four minutes (possibly thanks to some annoyance with the refs), and the Spurs entered intermission “only” down 52-47 despite a season-high 14 turnovers for a half. Green led the Spurs with 9 points, while CJ McCollum led all scorers with 16.
Green started the second half with another three despite the Blazers’ bench yelling in his ear and remained the lone bright spot for the offense, while at the other end the defense remained anemic and foul-prone. The Spurs finally stiffened up just enough to take their first lead, 69-67, since early in the first quarter on a Manu three with 3:49 left in the quarter, leading to a Portland timeout. Jonathon Simmons finally took (and made) an open three, Patty Mills woke up, and the Spurs entered the final frame up 80-73.
The Spurs red-hot shooting continued to start the fourth, with LaMarcus Aldridge getting into the act and Simmons again taking and making an open three. Green hit his sixth three of the game (along with a smirk directed at Portland’s bench since clearly their trash talk wasn’t working), and just like that it was a 93-77 game with 8:46 left. The Blazers never got closer than 13 after that, and the Spurs cruised to a 110-94 win with five players in double digits, led by 19 from Simmons and 18 a piece for Green and Tony Parker.
Check back later for more on this one. That’s it for 2016! The Spurs are back in action next year (or Sunday) for a 5pm tipoff in Atlanta.