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San Antonio at Portland, Final Score: Spurs blow out the Trail Blazers on the road, 125-104

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The Silver and Black pick up their first resounding win of the season versus a hobbled Blazers bunch.

San Antonio Spurs v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs dominated the fourth quarter and blew out the short-handed the Portland Trail Blazers, 125-104, handling business on the road and extending their winning streak to two games.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills, Rudy Gay, and DeMar DeRozan each scored at least 20 points, and the quartet of veterans led the Silver and Black to victory. Damian Lillard racked up 35 points to pace Portland.

Observations

  • Following four points in a season-low 17 minutes from LaMarcus Aldridge on Saturday, coach Popovich zeroed in on getting the seven-time All-Star going against his former team. The 15-year pro scored eight of the Spurs’ first ten points and took seven of their first eight shots. San Antonio continued to run pick-and-pop and high-post sets for LMA, who responded with 22 points on 58.8% from the field.
  • Blaming the refs for deciding the outcome of a game is lame, though criticizing their performance should be just as acceptable as analyzing any player who takes part in the action. The officials made several soft calls on minimal contact from both teams and even reviewed a routine foul by Dejounte Murray to ensure he didn’t make a flagrant-worthy play. I’m sure I sound like a crotchety curmudgeon, but sometimes I wish they would just let the guys play basketball.
  • Devin Vassell already looks like a seasoned vet 13 games into his NBA career. The rookie is arguably San Antonio’s best team defender, and he always seems to be in the right place at the right time on that end. He never seems rattled by the bright lights of the professional stage, and his unselfish play perfectly embodies the Spurs’ team-first brand of basketball.
  • Rudy Gay became the 117th player in NBA history with 1000 career three-pointer. He accomplished the feat on his fourth triple of the evening and ended the outing with 21 points and 7 rebounds in just under 24 minutes.
  • The Spurs have shot a league-worst 26.7% from beyond the arc on nearly 30 attempts per game since January 10. However, they began turning things around with a 15-of-33 showing from three-point-land versus the Blazers. San Antonio now improves to 6-1 when they shoot at least 40% from downtown. They are a dismal 2-5 when they fail to reach that mark.
  • DeMar DeRozan dished out six assists in the first quarter, continuing his trend of setting the table for teammates at the outset before looking for his looks late in proceedings. His six assists were the most in a single quarter by a Spur since Tony Parker set the franchise record with eight in the opening frame of a game against Portland in 2016. The four-time All-Star 20 points, 11 assists, and fell four rebounds short of a triple-double.
  • I always have myself a hearty chuckle when Keldon Johnson attempts a three-pointer. His deep jumpers have such an insane arc to them that they often leave the field of vision of the camera and splash through the net like someone dropped the ball from the nosebleeds. He only made one of his four long-range tries, though it didn’t make it any less entertaining to watch him leave it all on the floor.
  • Jakob Poeltl has been a scapegoat for some of San Antonio’s frontcourt issues early on this season, and while the fifth-year center has struggled in a few areas, he has been a plus when on the court. The Austrian big man only recorded three blocks over his first ten appearances this season but has raised his play, swatting ten shots over his last four games, including three versus Portland.
  • After starting the season shooting 56.9% from three-point territory, Patty Mills cooled off drastically, hitting just 9 of his 26 long-distance attempts over his last four outings. The Australian sharpshooter got back on track against his former franchise with 21 points in 24 minutes, nailing a game-high five triples.
  • Rodney Hood has averaged 1.6 points on a historically low 19.4% shooting this season, so of course, he dropped a season-high 21 points on an uber-efficient 9-of-14 performance. It sometimes feels like a meeting with the Spurs is all an opposing player needs to get out of a slump, but it doesn’t matter much when your team ends up losing by more than 20 points.
  • Damian Lillard is a nightmare matchup for inexperienced stoppers, and this Spurs team just so happens to be the youngest roster Gregg Popovich has ever coached. Most of San Antonio’s baby-faced guards are highly skilled in the defensive department, though Dame had no trouble baiting them into silly fouls with savvy screen navigation and an array of ball-fakes on his way to 35 points. Lonnie Walker IV guarded Lillard for several possessions, and hopefully, this will become a teachable moment for the third-year wing.

For the Blazers fan’s perspective, visit Blazers Edge.

The San Antonio Spurs now head further down the west coast to face the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night for the finale of their brief two-game road trip.