Another heartbreaking loss for the Spurs leaves them again two games below 0.500 as they travel to play the red hot Phoenix Suns tomorrow night.
Friday night, the Spurs had three shots to win and get to 27-27 for the season, but Demar DeRozan, Rudy Gay and Jakob Poeltl missed their opportunities and San Antonio fell to the Damian Lillard-less Portland Trail Blazers.
Lillard was a late scratch for the visitors and the news got better for the Spurs as they got Gogui Dieng back after 4 games out with a shoulder injury. Yet, Drew Eubanks took all of the backup big minutes, so Dieng never got the chance to enter the game. Still it’s good news to have another body back during this grueling schedule (Ed’s Note: in case Pop ever decides to rest his tired players like he used to. -jrw)
The game couldn’t have started worse for the Silver & Black as they committed 3 straight turnovers to start the ballgame. To pile on the misery, Jakob Poeltl also picked up two fouls in this stretch and was sent to the bench. His replacement, Drew Eubanks, had something to say. Drew started strong and brought the Spurs back into the contest. He had 5 of his 9 first quarter points in his first couple of possessions, including a silky and-1 on Jusuf Nurkić. The Era of Drew culminated with a 1 minute 10-0 run which gave the Spurs a healthy early lead.
The energy and intensity were clear to see on defense as the guys had active hands picking off passes and creating deflections. Unfortunately San Antonio couldn’t keep this up as they got sloppy down the stretch of the term and Portland pulled within 3 after a Melo buzzer beating 2-point jumper. The Blazers had CJ to thank for staying in touching distance as he delivered his team 12 opening quarter points.
The momentum carried over to the second for the away team, with them taking the lead 2 minutes Into the 2nd after a Enes Kanter layup. The Spurs battled back like they always do and took the lead right back at 40-38 courtesy of a Rudy Gay 2. A funny moment occurred during the middle of the term as Kanter tapped the ball into his own basket when he was going for a rebound. DeMar the closest man to him, put his hand up right away to make sure the scores gave him the credit for that! Neither team were able to get any breathing room for most of the quarter until Rudy and DeMar combined for some late buckets which pushed the San Antonio Spurs lead to 9 at the break.
The lead was double digits soon after the break, thanks to a Dejounte Murray 3 ball. Jakob Poetl who was quiet in the first half due to his foul trouble, came alive in this term as he poured in 11 points in the 3rd alone! This included a back to back bucket set that gave San Antonio their largest lead of the game of 16. Even without Dame the Blazers showed fight as they made a run of their own to bring the lead back to single digits.
This quarter was a term of runs as San Antonio counted with a 7-0 run before Blazers came again this time with a 10-2 run which put the side from Portland right back in it. They made sure of that as well, after a 3-pointer from 2021 dunk contest winner Anferee Simons and a And-1 play from CJ McCollum. A bright spot for the home team was that Drew Eubanks had a crazy put back slam during that Blazer run, if you haven’t seen the play yet, I would recommend you go search it out.
The Spurs who were up by as much as 16 in that quarter was only leading by 2 to start the 4th. CJ though tied the contest soon into the term and the Spurs had a game on their hands. They responded with a 7-0 run to give themselves a couple of possession lead but back to back Blazers threes had them back in front. Luckily Dejounte Murray wasn’t afraid to shoot one of his own and he hit a 3 the next time down the floor and the Spurs had the lead back.
The game was tied 95 apiece with 5 minutes to play and this is where DeMar and CJ showed their class. Both stars went back and forth hitting tough bucket after tough buckets, trying to claw their teams to victory. With 2 minutes to go the game was still tied, Derrick White showed that along with DeMar and CJ that he also has ice in his veins as he hit a tough and I mean tough 3-point shot with CJ draped all over him. The Blazers hit back and then a crucial San Antonio turnover gave Norman Powell a layup on the other end and the visitors were up 1 with 22 seconds on the clock. The Spurs came back from the timeout with a look for DeMar DeRozan, but he missed. The Spurs did get the rebound and Rudy missed a 3 before a final put-back shot from Jakob fell short and the Spurs once again lost a tight one, where missed opportunities down the stretch is what they will rue.
- With under 3 minutes to play DeMar and Kanter got into it after a foul on an offensive rebound. You could hear DeMar yelling at Kanter to “Do something about it”. This exchange got the home crowd fired up and for the rest of the quarter, as the arena was bouncing. I think this stretch was the loudest I’ve heard the fans since they have been allowed back. Honestly felt like it was a packed house during those possessions to end the 3rd.
- TRIPLE DOUBLE DEJOUNTE. Mr Murray had his 3rd triple double of the season tonight. This wasn’t the best game he has played as he shot 38% from the field and had 5 turnovers but he did fill up the box score. Dejounte had 13 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
- This was San Antonio’s 54th game of the season tonight. They are officially 3/4 of the way though this year’s 72 game schedule. They sit 26-28 for 10th best in the Western conference. Still a couple of games above the Pelicans and right now holding onto the final play-in position. I will be back tomorrow as well to do the recap for the Suns games as the Spurs kick off their final quarter of the 2020-2021 season in Phoenix.
- My SVP (Spurs Valuable Player) for tonights game goes to Drew Eubanks. He was so impactful tonight with his energy, hustle and intestity. He played within himself on both ends and hardly put a foot wrong. This showed up in the box score to with him having 15 points on 7/7 shooting , 4 rebounds and 2 steals. Possibly the best game of his young career, congrats to Drew on the SVP!
- Just a quick mention for DeMar DeRozan tonight. He was clutch DeMar once again and it sucks that the Spurs didn’t get the win for that type of performance and clutch shotmaking he put on in the 4th. He ended up with 26 points and 10 assists. Also got to shout out CJ Mcollum as well, he was just as clutch tonight as DeMar, making just as many tough shots late in the game and he himself ended up with 29 points and 6 assists.
Next game: Vs. the Suns on Saturday
The Spurs travel to Phoenix tomorrow to take on the Suns in their first meeting of the season. San Antonio still have all 3 games left against the second seed Suns, and these victories are going to be hard to come by especially on a back to back set going home to away. Let’s hope the guys have something up their sleeve to pull out a surprise win tomorrow night!