Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge shine in Blazers 3OT win over Spurs
Behind superstar performances from Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, the Portland Trail Blazers outlasted the San Antonio Spurs 127-117 in triple-overtime.
Lillard was spectacular again for the Blazers. He scored a career-high 43 points, dished six assists and hit multiple clutch shots and a game-saving block on San Antonio’s Danny Green on his attempt to win the game in regulation. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 32 points but also had 16 rebounds, a career-high five steals and two blocks while having to anchor Portland’s defense all night in 48 minutes.
There were so many big plays in this game it’s hard to remember them all. Lillard’s were certainly the most memorable and for the second game in a row, he carried more of the scoring load while Aldridge banged around more in the post. At least the last two games, that’s how Portland’s been making up for not having Lopez. Riding Lillard’s scoring and more of Aldridge banging in the middle and protecting the rim.
Aldridge had a huge rebound in the first overtime on a Wesley Matthews airball. Matthews then made the extra pass on the same possession to Lillard who ended up tying the game.
Lillard’s offensive play was what many will remember from this game. His attacks at the rim and clutch 3-point shooting were what we’ve come to expect.
Let’s just look at Damian Lillard’s play in overtime games over his career.
After tonight, in 14 career overtime games, Damian Lillard is 29-for-41 (71 percent) from the field and 10-for-18 (55 percent) from the 3-point line according to NBA.com’s database. In his first three seasons, Lillard has been nothing but money in overtime and tonight was no different. He scored 16 of his 43 points in the overtime period on just seven-of-11 (64 percent) shooting.
Of course stars don’t shine without their backdrop and the supporting cast stepped up in big ways. Some of those were unexpected. Dorell Wright came off the bench cold. It looked like his athleticism had slipped earlier in the season and that he was a step slow. He slowed down at the end but he was four-of-five from the 3-point line and injected life into Portland’s second unit on a night when CJ McCollum and Allen Crabbe went a combined 0-for-eight from the field.
And then there was Steve Blake who played 35 minutes, scored 10 points, five rebounds and four assists. He also hit a 3-pointer in double-overtime which eventually forced triple-overtime.
For the second time in two games, the Spurs were taken to triple-overtime on their home court. And for the second time in two games, they lost to a younger challenger to the Western Conference throne. They were without Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard and Popovich was making hockey-style substitutions by swapping five-man units.
It was an interesting game but boy was it competitive. The Blazers got off to a slow start, scoring only 17 points in the first quarter. The Spurs looked like they could get anything they wanted but they couldn’t buy a bucket and were only up by three after the opening quarter, shooting 38 percent.
The Spurs then looked like they were going to take over the game when they started to hit some of their shots and take their lead to 11. But Steve Blake came in and calmed things down and Portland got their rhythm back. It was triple-OT but the Blazers may go back to more small ball.
Their line-up with Dorell Wright at power forward was probably Portland’s best all night long. The line-up of Wright, Aldridge, Blake, Matthews and Lillard was a plus-8 in just six minutes. They put up eight 3-point attempts in those minutes according to NBA.com.
When Batum comes back, you’ll have to wonder whether the Blazers go back to more small ball with Aldridge in the middle. At least on their bench units.
- Chris Kaman’s game looked a little bit worse than it actually was. He had six points and five rebounds in 18 minutes and played some pretty decent defense. But he hasn’t been the offensive and rebounding force that he was in November. He has been eagerly awaiting the birth of his first child and who knows what effect that could be having on him. But we’ll have to keep tabs on his play moving forward after he was looking like a legit 6th Man of the Year.
- Nicolas Batum was held out of from Friday’s game with wrist and knee injuries after his nasty fall against Milwaukee. Allen Crabbe started in his place
- Tim Duncan looked like vintage Tim Duncan for portions of this game but that wasn’t enough to carry the Spurs tonight. The Blazers needed a couple of clutch replay reviews that took away San Antonio baskets in the overtimes. The Blazers also caught a break when Aldridge was clearly out of bounds when saving a loose ball that led to Blake’s game-tying 3 in 2OT. But that’s basketball and that’s the NBA. As I wrote in Friday’s scouting report, the Blazers need any break the y can get without Lopez.
- Dallas’ Chandler Parsons, who guarded Damian Lillard for his famous series-winning shot, brought some self-deprecating twitter humor to the discussion during the game. But another tweet of the night nominee brought to my attention by The Oregonian’s Mike Richman by Dorell Wright’s wife Mia mentioning Steve Blake’s wife Kristen.
- Saturday the Blazers face Anthony Davis and the Pelicans in New Orleans.