San Antonio, intent on sharing the ball better on offense, rode a decided advantage in assists and paint points to surge to a 16 point lead early in the second half. However Portland mounted a comeback late in the fourth period and snuck out with the close victory. The Spurs fell one game behind Golden State and kept itself two games ahead of New Orleans in the Western Conference playoff hunt.
San Antonio was paced by stellar efforts from DeMar DeRozan (26 points and 10 assists), a triple-double by Dejounte Murray (13 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists) and Jakob Poeltl (17 points and 8 rebounds).
Portland, despite the absence of superstar Damian Lillard (Hamstring), was led by CJ McCollum (29 points and 6 assists) and support from Norman Powell (22 points and 4 assists) and Anfernee Simons (16 points).
- The teams clad in red (Portland) and black (San Antonio) resembled a Blazers intrasquad game.
- In a potential play-in game, the difference between a win and loss will likely be the number of threes made by the Spurs.
- Drew Eubanks uncorked his own version of a Pop-a-Shot midway through the first period that swished cleanly through.
- Keldon’s Kitchen: Keldon, given the chance to burst full speed to the rim off the catch late in the first half, instead skittered through the lane and caught the Blazers defenders off guard for a smooth lay-in.
- Devin’s Deeds: Welp.
- It feels like Rudy Gay and Carmelo Anthony were cut from the same ‘pull-up jumper’ cloth, but Anthony’s range has always extended out slightly further than Gay’s.
- Sequence of the Game: After Murray softly swished a wing three, White turned back McCollum’s floater at the other end as part of a 9-0 run San Antonio made to start the third period.
- McCollum is so masterful with his handle and shot creation in the area between the arc and the paint and would be a great example for Lonnie Walker IV and Johnson to emulate.
- Both teams came out of the games intent on making this a high-scoring affair. Jakob Poeltl picked up two quick fouls, while McCollum, in Lillard’s absence, assumed his mantle and got into double digits early. San Antonio ran off a 10-0 run capped off with a technical called on Portland coach Terry Stotts. Enes Kanter made it difficult for San Antonio on the boards and extended several Portland possessions with his heft and hustle. The Spurs hit 10 of their first 14 shots from the field with all of the makes assisted and DeRozan and Eubanks leading the team in scoring. Grizzled veteran Carmelo Anthony crossed over Patty Mills in transition and nailed a jumper to bring Portland within three at the end of the first.
- The Blazers, behind Anthony and Anfernee Simons, ran off nine consecutive points to take the lead at the start of the second period. Simons, in particular, nailed two difficult fadeaway threes over Mills that fell in. DeRozan picked up two lucky points from a Kanter tapback that gently floated into the Spurs’ basket. San Antonio was able to stay just barely ahead of Portland for the bulk of the stanza. A surprisingly hesitant three by Gay that still went in and a baseline jumper by DeRozan pushed the Spurs lead out to nine exiting the half.
- Murray assisted or scored on San Antonio’s handful of makes coming out of the break to extend them to a 66-50 advantage. Some sloppy execution by the Spurs allowed Portland to chop into the lead. DeRozan tried to stave off the inevitable Portland run, but two McCollum and-1’s bookended threes by Anthony and Simons to cut the Blazer deficit to four. DeRozan and Kanter were involved in a tiff over reach-ins by the Spurs star. A pair of Eubanks dunks emphatically countered the hot shooting of the Blazers. The Spurs left the quarter up 85-83.
- This happened early in the fourth quarter: Kanter backed Poeltl down into the paint with a series of butt-scoots and somehow drew a foul. A Walker IV three helped pushed San Antonio’s lead to five. The teams exchanged leads throughout the middle part of the period. A eurostep layup and floater by DeRozan gave San Antonio brief leads, but those were matched by McCollum and Powell.
- A wing three by White made it 104-101, but Powell snuck behind the Spurs defense for a layup. DeRozan willed in a difficult banker from the left side, but that was offset by a fadeaway jumper by McCollum. In an unfortunate turn of events, Walker IV lost possession late in the shot clock, and Powell was granted two points in transition on basket interference to reclaim the lead. Several Spurs missed shots in the final possession and there was an inexplicable set of no-calls on a final rebound and attempt by Poeltl where there appeared to be Blazers’ contact on his arms.
For the Blazers fan’s perspective, visit Blazer’s Edge.
The Spurs venture out to the Valley of the Sun for a SEGABABA with Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns Saturday night at 9:00 PM CT.