The Spurs weathered a blazing hot 23-4 start and an even hotter 24-8 finish by Portland to squeak by the Trail Blazers and close out the opening homestead 3-0. The Spurs were led by DeMar DeRozan (27 points and 7 rebounds), Derrick White (21 points and 5 rebounds), and Bryn Forbes (14 points and 7 rebounds), and Portland was paced by CJ McCollum (24 points and 5 assists) and Damian Lillard (28 points, 7 assists).
- Two of LaMarcus Aldridge’s five blocks on the night came against former teammate Lillard.
- Floppy Play: Run one time in the 1st period and netted a Portland foul.
- After a leaning baseline swish by Marco Belinelli, Sean Elliott quipped “If Marco’s not leaning, he’s not trying!”
- Did Dejounte Murray and White play together tonight? No, but as Jakob Poeltl commented earlier today, “I think they could play really well together. For now, they work really well as a starter-backup duo.”
- The former Spur reunion tour, starting with Marcus Morris and Davis Bertans, continued tonight with Pau Gasol returning to town, and extends into the upcoming road trip with Kawhi Leonard (Clippers) and Danny Green (Lakers).
- Though there are still productive years left presumably for Lillard and McCollum, is it fair to start comparing their legacy with that of other great duos that stayed with one team and remained title-less, such as Utah’s John Stockton and Karl Malone, Seattle’s Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, or Phoenix’s Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire?
- San Antonio’s record against Portland all-time moved to 87-83. Starting with last night’s game, Portland plays 12 of their next 16 games on the road.
- Speaking of Rudy Gay, how uplifting was it to see him support breast cancer patients from Texas Wings in honor of his grandmother?
- Just a friendly reminder that you may want to hop online early tomorrow to order those Loteria t-shirts!
- Blazers starter Zach Collins suffered a dislocated shoulder Sunday night and Anthony Tolliver took his place. Portland netted its first five 3-pointers and staked itself to an early 19 point lead, while the Spurs had trouble making shots and turned the ball over often. Spurs highlights were far and few between; however, White stopped the plethora of mid-range and long misses with two layups, while Poeltl contributed a tip-in and a block at the other end. San Antonio managed to escape the first period down only 19-33 despite the Blazers hitting six 3-pointers to the Spurs’ zero.
- White started the second frame at point and quickly chipped in three buckets at the rim, while Blazers’ backup Anfernee Simons countered with six points of his own. The Spurs attacked the rim at will in the extended absence of Hassan Whiteside. In a sequence that characterized how difficult the uphill road was for the good guys, a Murray fast break layup was stuffed by Kent Bazemore, and the Blazers found McCollum for an open corner three at the other end for a dispiriting five-point swing. Just as I was about to note that he was having an off-night, Gay pieced together several free throws and the team’s only three to help San Antonio trim the deficit to six late in the quarter, and Portland took a 51-45 lead into halftime.
- Bryn Forbes and DeMar DeRozan carried the Spurs in the third period. Forbes started first with a reasonable impression of his counterpart McCollum with three long makes and free throws to start the third period. Pop pulled Murray quickly after an unforced turnover to remind him of the value of possessions. The Spurs briefly took the lead on a DeRozan drive, and the teams exchanged baskets before Murray rewarded his coach’s faith in him on a steal and nifty dish to DeRozan for an emphatic jam. Perhaps fading from tired legs, numerous Portland jumpers now failed to find their mark. The only thing that stopped DeRozan on a run where he chipped in ten straight points was a bloody finger! Patty Mills continued the team’s run of buzzer beaters in this homestead with a corner-3 to push the lead to 11 at the end of three.
- The benches traded makes to start the fourth. Skal Labissiere kept several Portland possessions alive and made life difficult for the Spurs’ bigs. He looks like an active young big that could have benefited from the tutelage that Tim Duncan could offer. Mills and Belinelli bombed away from distance to push the Spurs lead to 19. McCollum and Lillard, as anticipated, carried Portland on a 15-0 run in the latter half of the stanza with a variety of conversions around the basket. White countered with free throws and vicious dunk to stop the run briefly. Lillard threw down his own dunk to close the gap to one. White threw in a floater over two Blazers, and the Spurs “bend-don’t-break defense” forced a McCollum miss in the final minute. A pair of missed threes from Lillard and Tolliver brought the collective breath back to Spurs fans. However, two DeRozan free throw misses ratcheted the drama back up to unbearable levels. A referee review of the second miss involving Trey Lyles and McCollum resulted in Blazers possession. Another Lillard miss was coughed up by the Spurs out-of-bounds. And yet another Lillard launch from the right corner contested by White went nearly all the way in and then somehow skirted out to mercifully end this exciting game.
For the Blazers fan’s perspective, please visit Blazers Edge.
The Spurs head west for the first SEGABAGA of the season — starting with Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday at 9:30 PM CT followed immediately by a match up with Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors Friday at 9:00 PM CT.