It was a close game throughout in which both teams took care of the ball and slowed things down to limit the other’s ability to make runs. The Spurs finally got some separation late in the fourth quarter, when the Blazers started to show some signs of fatigue and a lack of firepower without CJ McCollum, who had to leave the game in the third quarter with an injury. Ultimately San Antonio had more weapons and could outlast Portland on a night in which both squads were on a SEGABABA.
DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 21 points. Damian Lillard finished with 34 points and Jusuf Nurkic had 24 points and 16 rebounds in the losing effort.
- Early in the broadcast Sean Elliott used Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum as a comparison for Dejounte Murray and Derrick White. I get the excitement about the potential backcourt of the future sharing the court next season, but let’s pump the breaks, Sean. Lillard is a franchise guy and McCollum is a borderline All-Star. The Spurs guys should have a huge edge on defense, though.
- DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge scored the Spurs’ first 19 points and 21 of the team’s 23 first quarter points. I’m partial to equal opportunity offenses that move the ball, but it’s always good to have stars to turn to when nothing else is working.
- Derrick White put the clamps on Damian Lillard early in the game. Then in the second quarter the refs called a foul on White on a play in which Lillard clearly slipped after stepping on Aldridge’s foot, followed by a shooting foul on a three that Dame hit on the next play. White was doing a good job in the third quarter until CJ McCollum exited for the night with a knee sprain with 7:03 to go. After that, Lillard got aggressive using ball screens and did what he typically does. He finished with 34 points on 29 shots to go with five assists. Still, White did a great job on him.
- Is Rodney Hood a Spurs killer? Sean and Bill believe so, but I’m not so sure. I get why they think he is, since he had 14 points in seven shots the last time he faced the Spurs and once dropped 29 on them. But he averages around 11 points against the Spurs for his career and has scored over 20 on them twice. On Saturday he had 13 off the bench. That doesn’t sound like a Spurs Killer to me, but I’ll let you guys decide.
- Nurkic has a terrible reputation and can disappear for stretches, but when he’s on, he can be a pain to guard and keep off the glass. Jakob Poeltl struggled to deal with his physicality at times. Fortunately Jakob made up for it with help defense, logging five blocks.
- The Spurs’ defense was very good in general. The Blazers shot 41 percent from the floor and 25 from beyond the arc. Some of the misses were obviously open, but for the most part the Spurs contested well. For some reason they turn into a completely different team on that end in the AT&T Center. They came into Saturday’s game with the ninth best defense at home and did great against the fifth best ranked offense in the league.
- The bench was huge for the Spurs. They outscored Portland’s subs by 21 points. San Antonio had seven players in double digits to the Blazers’ five. They just had more weapons on Saturday, especially when McCollum went down.
- The Spurs now have a game on the Jazz and Clippers and are just 2.5 games back from the third seed. What a weird season.
For the opponent’s perspective, visit our friends over at Blazer’s Edge.
Up next: The Spurs will host the Golden State Warriors on Monday, looking to stretch their winning streak to nine.