Portland and San Antonio supplied fans several separate, yet wildly entertaining games in one this evening before the Blazers closed the game on a 17-5 run. DeMar DeRozan (16 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists), Bryn Forbes (19 points), and LaMarcus Aldridge (30 points and 13 rebounds) paced the Spurs, while the Blazers were led by CJ McCollum (32 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists), Hassan Whiteside (21 points and 12 rebounds) and Damian Lillard (22 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists).
- I am happy to report that there was a positive free throw disparity in the good guys’ favor tonight.
- Per Fox Sports Analyst Dan Weiss, Trey Lyles is the first Spur to reach 100 rebounds this year. Combine that with his 11 for 17 shooting from distance in the last handful of games, and we may have the makings of a mainstay in the starting lineup.
- Sean Elliott likened Portland’s consideration of throwing newly-signed Carmelo Anthony into this game without practice to “throwing ketchup on a breakfast taco.” Indeed.
- For all of the talk that Bryn Forbes has had difficulties making a defensive impact as an undersized guard, I have not heard anything similar talk about his Portland counterparts. Neither McCollum nor Lillard have garnered reputations as stoppers.
- Lonnie Walker IV came in late in the first quarter and immediately contributed the most exciting Spurs play with an end-to-end runner to beat the clock. He later converted an acrobatic layup in traffic to start the fourth quarter. LONNIE WALKER IV - contributor!
- Blazer guard Anfernee Simons, from what we’ve seen so far this season, seems to be the type of scorer and defender that teammate Rodney Hood was expected to be.
- Though the topic of lineup changes has been excellently discussed earlier in the week, I think that that the inclusion of Derrick White with the starters would allow him to both get Aldridge the ball in his favorite spots, while conversely playing off-the-ball when DeRozan attacks the basket. Dejounte Murray would be able to run wild with the more spontaneous free-wheeling second unit.
- Coach Popovich took the rest of the evening off after getting ejected for arguing two straight questionable calls against White. Though it would have been really exciting to have Assistant Coach Becky Hammon be next in line to replace Pop, it was determined that Hammon, Tim Duncan, and Will Hardy would coach by committee.
- Jordan Howenstine noted that the Spurs have seven players averaging double digits; yet more evidence that the defense is the true culprit for the losing streak.
- When hearing that Anthony signed on with the Blazers to bolster their depleted frontcourt, my wife quipped “Hey at least someone wants him right?” The most memorable Anthony game that I recall was one played back in December 2010 - involving two unbelievable late plays made by none other than Manu Ginobili. After coughing up a lead late to Denver, Ginobili converted a H-O-R-S-E shot off the glass to put San Antonio up 113-112, and one-upped that play by drawing a charge on Anthony on the other end at the buzzer to preserve the win.
- Did San Antonio start slow again? A desultory YES. Hassan Whiteside had his way with the Spurs bigs on nifty makes in the paint, while McCollum countered with a brutally efficient perimeter game as the Blazers appeared to be running a scrimmage and shot 76%. The Spurs’ poor shooting and inability to get consecutive stops hampered them to a 23-point deficit. Rudy Gay and Jakob Poeltl made a concerted effort to attack the rim in the second frame and San Antonio closed the gap to nine. Late in the stanza, a Forbes steal leading to a Mills contested miss at the rim could have trimmed the deficit to two. Instead, McCollum took advantage of tired Spurs defenders for an open-3 to put Portland up 66-58 at the break.
- Lillard, having been gifted two questionable 3-point fouls, took advantage of the free throws to extend Portland’s lead back to double digits. After Pop’s ejection, White swallowed a Lillard drive at the rim and converted a drive as part of a 8-0 Spurs run. McCollum continued his unfettered access to open jump shots. DeRozan, after a missed call on a drive, encouragingly rocketed to the other end to steal an entry pass and drew a foul on Whiteside on the other end for good measure. San Antonio took its first lead of the game on an Aldridge tip-dunk and a Mills steal/layup on the ensuing inbounds. Mills followed DeRozan’s example after a miss by deflecting a Kent Bazemore jumpshot at the end of the quarter to preserve a 96-90 lead.
- Spurs reserves were able to extend to 106-91 very early in the fourth, but then Portland began its obligatory comeback by attacking the rim at will on an 11-0 run. Lyles blocked a runaway Lillard on a fast break and his tenacious defensive rebound kept the Blazers at bay. Portland tied things up at 111 with better half court execution. In the final minutes, Hood converted a contested and-one, while DeRozan had his own drive. However, DeRozan yet again was involved in a extremely questionable foul call that was challenged by the Spurs. The ruling from Secaucus resulted in an inexplicable loose-ball foul on DeRozan despite what looked like a hold on Hood prior to his shot and a no-call at best on Whiteside’s shot contest. Portland iced the game away on free throws.
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The Spurs start a critical four game road trip on Monday night with ascendant superstar Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks at 7:30 PM CT on KENS TV.