The San Antonio Spurs took care of the Portland Trail Blazers in the first of their two-game mini-series as they push closer to securing their place in this year’s play-in tournament. The Blazers came out with more energy than in their 37-point loss nine days ago to the Spurs, but talent eventually shined through with the Silver & Black pulling away for a 130-111 victory.
Portland came out of the blocks as if they weren’t missing their nine best players on their roster by going on a 8-0 run which surprised the Spurs who were looking befuddled on offense without Dejounte Murray. Josh Primo who was making his seven consecutive start was taking advantage of more on-ball opportunities with a few nice drives to the rim, including a one-handed poster slam from the baseline. The home team’s dominance started to show when both benches were on the floor, with Zach Collins and Josh Richardson providing a scoring burst while the Blazers were struggling to even get a good shot. The visitors though were able to stay within arms distance by getting a few of those tough shots to fall in.
In the second the Spurs were running the floor and scoring with ease at the rim while getting open looks from behind the arc which they were hitting, mainly courtesy of Keldon Johnson. The biggest player on the floor for the night was Spur, Jakob Poeltl, so it was no surprise that he was having a blast being able to hit shot after shot around the rim. And if San Antonio hadn’t shown off their size advantage yet they certainly did when they went with the Collins-Jock Landale lineup and diverted to the high-low action which Portland had no answer for. The Spurs were up 77-49 at the break.
Both teams didn’t need any warm up minutes in the second because both came out extremely hot from the outside. Devin Vassell was one who was feeling his shot early as he had seven points in under three minutes. A lot of credit has to go to the Blazers who kept fighting throughout no matter the scoreline, and were able to keep the deficit between 20-30 points for the whole third quarter.
With the Blazers verging on cutting the lead under 20 the Spurs upped their intensity and focus early on in the fourth in order to pull away for good and give the starters some extra rest. The final ten minutes was awash with the Spurs running out 19-point winners.
- The Trap Game. A lot of times the second contest of a two-game miniseries can lead to a ‘trap game’ for those who won the first, and with the Spurs feeling good about this comfortable victory it could lead to a bit of complacency in their second game on Sunday. But with only five games to play and the play-in spots up for grabs you would hope that San Antonio will come out focused and professional and get the win.
- Dejounte Murray. The All-Star was a late scratch for the game with a non-covid illness which came out of the blue. Hopefully it doesn’t hold him out too long and he’ll be able to be back on the floor on Sunday for the second game against the Blazers.
- Play-In Update. San Antonio are 1 game ahead in the 10th seed with 5 games to play.
Play of the Game
There is legitimately four or five highlights to pick from, but with Josh Primo being a rookie it’s only fair that he gets the shout-out for his poster dunk.
Spurs Valuable Player (SVP)
Josh Primo, Josh Richardson, Tre Jones, Lonnie Walker, Jock Landale, Jakob Poeltl & Keita Bates-Diop all had a shout for an SVP point. (Yes, that is everyone that played, but they all had solid performances!)
3rd place (1 point): Zach Collins | 25mins, 15 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 stls, 2 blks
Over the past few weeks the Spurs are starting to see the best from their summer recruit as Zach Collins seems to be getting his feet under him after missing 540 days with injury. Against his former team he put up great numbers but the best part was his aggressiveness on and off the ball, constantly setting screens and moving and then when he was given the rock he made quick, decisive decisions.
2nd place (2 points): Devin Vassell | 27mins, 22 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 triples
As solid as usual was Devin Vassell. He had shots fall for him which hasn’t always been the case as of late but on top of the shot-making he was involved in everything good defensively.
1st place (3 points): Keldon Johnson | 27mins, 21 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, 5 triples
With no Dejounte Murray it was Keldon who took the mantle as the #1 option and he delivered a great performance. He had six assists as he showcased some playmaking but it was the triples and energy that he brought that really made sure this was never going to be a contest in the second-half.
1st - Dejounte Murray - 121pts
2nd - Jakob Poeltl - 65pts
3rd - Keldon Johnson - 61pts
4th - Derrick White - 51pts
5th - Devin Vassell- 49pts
6th - Lonnie Walker IV - 37pts
7th - Doug McDermott - 16pts
8th - Bryn Forbes - 12pts
9th - Thaddeus Young - 11pts
10th - Jock Landale - 10pts
11th - Tre Jones & Josh Richardson - 7pts
12th - Keita Bates-Diop - 6pts
13th - Josh Primo - 3pts
14th - Drew Eubanks & Zach Collins - 2pts
15th - Devontae Cacok & Joe Wieskamp - 1pt
Next Game: Vs Portland on Sunday
San Antonio will look to continue their hunt in the Play-in race when they face the Portland Trail Blazers in the second contest of their two game mini-series.