The San Antonio Spurs captured their 7th win of the season, and their 3rd straight, as they dismantle the Dame-less Portland Trail Blazers. A near perfect first half gave the Spurs a big enough cushion that when the offense dried up in the second half they never had to deal with being in a close single digit game. The Spurs also broke the Blazers 10 game winning streak at home as Portland held a 10-1 record at the Moda Center, up to this point in the season.
Doug McDermott returned to the starting lineup for the Spurs, after missing the last 4 games. Devin Vassell who missed the two wins, also returned, in his role off the bench. Portland were a bit shorthanded for the game as star Damian Lillard was on the sidelines with an abdominal strain.
The game started strong for the road team, as a Jakob block led to a Derrick White three on the other end. Derrick after playing well the last few games, shot the ball with no hesitation, showing his growing confidence. Next time down the floor, Doug McDermott was also able to drain a three, as he welcomed himself back in the Silver & Black. McBuckets was able to capitalize on another Jakob block with his second three of the night a few minutes later. The Spurs were running and gunning early on, and Portland were struggling to match up to the energy and intensity. This gave the Spurs a 10-point lead at the first interval; 32-22.
The Blazers were getting clued up on the fact that they should run Doug off the three-point line, unfortunately for them, McDermott didn’t mind, as he attacked the baskets three times for three buckets. The Spurs then just started to unload from three, first with DJ going back to back before KJ and Derrick followed each other up with triples. The Spurs had a 20+ point lead. The defense was outstanding in the quarter, as each Spur helped each other out and communicated well which forced Portland into turnovers, tough jumpers and blocked shots. The Spurs wandered into the half up; 68-47.
The second half felt like a completely different game, this was felt early on, as both teams had a slow start out of the locker room, with shots not falling and a ton of foul calls. The Blazers were the first team to gain a little bit of energy and this allowed them to cut the Spurs lead to under 20. Their defense started to cause the Spurs a few problems which attributed to two straight 24-second violations. San Antonio were hurting themselves as well, with poor turnovers, but luckily for the Spurs, the Blazers couldn’t take advantage and the Spurs still held a commanding lead. Then to pile on some misery to the Blazers fans trying to will their team to a comeback, Tre Jones helped the Spurs finish the quarter strong, as they went into the 4th comfortably up; 84-65.
Portland weren’t going to give their 10-game home winning streak up too easily, as they came into the 4th with some energy and were able to use that to find the open shooter and make some shots. They cut it to 12, the closest the game had got since the first half. The Spurs were trying to hold the lead, as they attacked the paint aggressively, but just could not finish over the tough defense. Luckily their “lighting in a bottle” (Per Sean Elliot) Bryn Forbes was able to provide a much needed scoring spree. He contributed to 5 points in a 7-0 run that gave the Spurs some much needed breathing room. From here on out the Spurs regained control and cruised to victory, as the bench units checked in and the Spurs went on to rout the Blazers by 31; 114-83.
- Pop’s Rotations. The Spurs haven’t had many game where they have had their full complement of players available (bar, Zach Collins) but tonight they did. Josh Primo, Joe Wieskamp and Devontae Cacok were back with the Austin Spurs. Pop went with a nine-man rotation for the first half which included Tre Jones, Lonnie Walker IV, Devin Vassell and Thaddeus Young off the bench. In the second half when Vassell was sat due to feeling tightness, Bryn Forbes took his minutes. KBD also played spot minutes as it looked like Doug McDermott may be on a minute’s restriction. For now, it looks like Pop will play that 9-man rotation that played in the first half for the foreseeable future. This should excite fans as Tre Jones will get regular minutes and Thad Young will get the backup big role.
- A game of two-halves. The Spurs shot a scorching 11/23 from three in the first 2 quarters but after the half-time break they went 3/13 the rest of the way. With only Bryn hitting from the outside. The Spurs have had halves like they did in the first, this season. But to get to the next level the Spurs must start being consistent with their 3-ball, as if they don’t it will put them in situations like today where they nearly lost a 20+ point lead because they weren’t able to score the ball.
- Defense wins’ games. The Spurs were able to overcome a poor second half scoring because of their shutdown defense. San Antonio have rarely had a 4 quarter complete offensive performance this season, but they have had a number of complete defensive games, just like against Portland. The defense was suffocating and never allowed the Blazers to get into a rhythm, the home team shot a woeful 35% from the floor, while also committing 18 turnovers. Yes, there was no Dame, but a lot of this had to do with the Spurs defensive effort and intensity.
Play of the Game
Icing on the cake
Spurs Valuable Player (SVP)
A shoutout to Doug McDermott who just couldn’t sneak into an SVP place, due to a number of other great performances. But after not playing in the last 4 games, Doug showed his value to the Spurs with his three-point scoring, his cutting and his finishing at the rim. Only 21 minutes, but 16 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. As his minutes ramp up again, so should the production, so this is great news.
3rd place (1 point): Bryn Forbes | 15 minutes, 18 points, 2 steals, 7/9 fg’s , 3 threes
If you want to talk about what the word valuable means, then Bryn Forbes performance is the definition of that. The Spurs couldn’t score, the Blazers were slowly cutting the lead and the crowd were getting back into the game, in came Bryn. This game would have gotten scary at the end if Forbes didn’t bring his flamethrower to Portland with him. Luckily, he did and the Spurs won.
2nd place (2 points): Dejounte Murray | 35 minutes, 15 points, 13 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 stls
The near triple-double stat lines don’t even surprise me anymore, he’s just that good of a player now. He had 10 assists and a double-double already secured at halftime. Didn’t shoot the ball particularly well but did so many good things well, that the big lead the Spurs had was partly due to him and...
1st place (3 points): Jakob Poeltl | 30 minutes, 14 points, 9 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 assists
Jakob Poeltl was a monster against the Blazers. The defense which I talked about earlier was mostly because of his rim protection and his ability to contest anything within 5-10 feet of him. He scored some timely baskets as well which helped the score tick along, but in this game he got the 1st place SVP because of this All-NBA caliber defense.
1st - Dejounte Murray - 36pts
2nd - Devin Vassell - 20pts
3rd - Keldon Johnson - 15pts
4th - Derrick White - 13pts
5th - Jakob Poeltl - 12pts
6th - Thaddeus Young - 9pts
7th - Doug McDermott & Bryn Forbes - 5pts
8th - Drew Eubanks & Lonnie Walker IV - 2pts each
9th - Jock Landale- 1pt
Next Game: @ Warriors on Saturday
The Spurs move on in their west coast road trip, as look to continue their winning streak and build it to 4. But to do so they face a daunting challenge as they go against MVP front runner, Steph Curry, and his Golden State Warriors