Both teams came into this game off Friday night wins (against the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers respectively) though the aim for each team entering the final week differs. The Spurs are looking at the 8/9/10 seed while the Blazers are looking to avoid the play-in tournament as they search for a 5/6 seed. The Spurs kept the same starting 5 as the previous game, meaning Lonnie Walker IV kept his place. For the Blazers future hall of famer Carmelo Anthony was missing due to injury.
The Spurs started much the same as they began last night. Against the Kings they began with a 7-0 run, in Portland they added two to that as they started the game with 9 straight including 5 from last night’s hero; Lonnie Walker IV. On a negative tone, Dejounte Murray who was tasked with defending Damian Lillard for most of the night, got into foul trouble early and took a seat. Then Portland really took control. Back to back threes from the home team had them within 3 of the Spurs, before an AND-1 from CJ McCollum gave the Blazers their first lead of the night. With 3 minutes left in the opening frame the Spurs re-took the lead with a Rudy Gay three. Unfortunately, Damilan Lillard who got to the foul line lots early scored his 7th and 8th free throws of the term at the end of the quarter to give the Blazers a 27-26 lead going into the second.
Back to back Simons buckets had Portland up 5 early in the 2nd. The Spurs responded with 6 straight before CJ countered with a 3 of his own. The Spurs started to get sloppy defensively as they gave up multiple open 3’s which the Blazers happily took advantage of to grow their lead to 7. Offensive rebounds were a problem all night for the Spurs but especially in the second, where the Blazers seemed as if they got one every offensive possession. This gave the Blazers multiple bites at the apple and they made sure not to waste their second or third opportunities to make the Spurs pay. To mpile on the Spurs misery Damian Lillard got hot from three as he went 3/3 in 3 possessions. At halftime Blazers were up 10.
The Spurs needed a fast start to give themselves a chance to fight back, but they got the opposite. Portland started on an 8-2 run as turnovers and a lack of rebounding kept the Spurs down. Jusuf Nurkic got going as the Blazers were actively looking for him to score and get to the line. San Antonio was barely hanging on as a Rudy three cut the deficit to 11. Lillard turned it on late in the quarter and pushed the lead to 15 at the quarter’s end.
Patty Mills started the 4th with a three ball, but that was all he had to give, as has pretty much been the case since the All-Star break, unfortunately. It was then Norman Powell’s turn to take over for the Trail Blazers as he did his work while Lillard was on the bench. As expected with both teams on a SEGABABA, they started to tire down the stretch with the quality of basketball took a drastic turn down. After an AND-1 play by McCollum which moved Portland to a 19-point lead with 6 minutes to play, Pop decided to empty his bench. The rest of the game was garbage time as Spurs lost 124-102.
- Shooting. The Spurs shot 8/30 from three which is a woeful 26 percent. Funny enough it is actually 8 percent better than yesterday’s game — which they won. I’ve talked about SA’s poor shooting way too much this season, so if you want to read more about my thoughts on our shooting woes you can read my recap from Friday’s game.
- Rebounding. The Spurs were destroyed on the boards. Absolutely dismantled. This was weird and hopefully an anomaly as the two previous games the Spurs had easily won the rebounding totals against the Blazers. Tonight, Blazers had 69 to San Antonio’s 50. To make things worse, Portland had 18 offensive rebounds which is a recipe for disaster.
- Damian Lillard. As much as I hate seeing an opponent go off on the Spurs, I love watching him play. He is one of my top 3 favorite non-Spurs players to watch alongside of Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid. Tonight Dame Time had 30 points, 8 assist and 4 rebounds. Makes it look so easy.
- Tonight’s SVP (Spurs Valuable Players) goes to Lonnie Walker IV, who was a bright spot on a this pretty dim night, and had me yelling at my screen at one point in the third quarter when he got cooking, wanting the team to feed him every time down the court. They didn’t, and that was probably a indicator that they weren’t going to make a comeback. 18 points, 8 rebounds and Walker shot 4/6 from three. Encouraging displays from Lonnie since getting back into the starting 5.
Next game: Vs the Bucks on Monday
Another game, another tough team. The Spurs will once again look for another win to inch closer to securing their fate in the play-in tournament. Won’t be easy but considering this season, anything is possible.