Blazers losing streak extends to six against Spurs 93-80
The Portland Trail Blazers lost to the San Antonio Spurs, 93-80 Monday night at the AT&T Center. Monday’s loss extended the Blazers season-long losing streak to six games. It’s the second-longest active streak in the league. Damian Lillard had 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the loss.
When the Spurs started playing something other than their F game, Lillard looked like the captain of a sinking ship. But as much as Lillard tried to bail the water from the boat the Spurs sunk the Blazers anyway.
Manu Ginobili had 17 points off the bench for the Spurs including 14 in the fourth quarter and a stretch of nine straight points during a 2:06 stretch in the game’s final 3:25.
For the second time in three games, Stotts went with veteran center Chris Kaman in the starting line-up against a veteran frontcourt. After Noah Vonleh started against Charlotte, Stotts went back to Kaman who played well as a starter against the Memphis Grizzlies. Stotts did close the game with Vonleh on the floor alongside the other Blazers regular starters.
Early on, Kaman couldn’t replicate the shotmaking he enjoyed against Memphis. But the same was true for his Blazers teammates. And for the Spurs. The Blazers went without their first field goal until the 7:59 mark of the first quarter, opening with a solid four minute drought from the field. Kaman ended the night 1-of-7 from the field with four rebounds in 20 minutes.
The Blazers fought hard on the defensive end as the Spurs starting line-up continued to disappoint overall, though still outplaying the Blazers. Parker looked to have an extra spring in his step compared to where he was in Portland five days ago and Aldridge had a forgettable night for the Spurs, going 2-for-8. But Kawhi Leonard still had this monster dunk.
Both teams shot terribly from the field in the first half. Midway through the second quarter, the Blazers had just 17 points but found themselves down only by 11 points. Neither team had much of an offensive rhythm, though the Spurs were getting better shots. McCollum couldn’t get going and the Blazers offense went the same direction while the Spurs bench led by Boris Diaw, David West, Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills extended their lead.
The veteran Spurs actually shot slightly worse than Portland but took much better care of the ball in the first half, with one turnover to eight for the Blazers.
In the second half, things picked up a little bit for both teams. Lillard took it on himself to try and jump start the offense and McCollum picked up his game as well. The bad news of course was that the Spurs backcourt also started playing better as Tony Parker and Danny Green were in attack mode.
Other than Lillard and McCollum, there was very little impact play for the Blazers. But in the final minutes of the third quarter Lillard did his best to take over the game. The Spurs woke up offensively as well, but Portland scored 30 points in the third quarter to cut the lead to five heading into the fourth. Lillard had 16 of those 30 in the third.
But once again the Spurs veteran bench was there to build on the work of their starters. Mills and Diaw along with Aldridge, Green and Leonard helped push the Spurs lead back up to 13.
Aminu woke up offensively down the stretch hitting a couple of his three 3-pointers on the night during the Blazers 4th quarter run. However, Ginobili closed the Blazers down the stretch scoring nine straight Spurs points after Portland managed to cut the lead down to three points a few times.
Portland has one more game, in Houston on Wednesday, before returning to home. The Rockets are going through their own struggles, losers of four straight games including losing by 16 at home Monday to Boston.
- Noah Vonleh closed the game for the Blazers and hit a 3-pointer during one of their last best efforts to win the game. He’s still going to make mistakes, but late-game experience against the Spurs on the road is invaluable to a 20-year old. He played 22 minutes. The Blazers line-up that closed the game of Lillard-McCollum-Aminu-Vonleh-Plumlee was a +4 in nine minutes. Given that Portland made a run with him on the floor and the Rockets tend to play smaller without Dwight Howard, maybe he’s earned himself more minutes Wednesday.
- This is just how it goes when McCollum and Lillard don’t get it going at the same time. Lillard had an excellent game but McCollum didn’t shoot as well as we have seen him shoot so far this season. He didn’t make a 3-pointer and went 6-for-14 from the field overall. Al-Farouq Aminu had a pair of treys in the 4th. Plumlee was efficient but isn’t called upon for his scoring. Crabbe finally had an off night, Harkless only played 12 minutes, Gerald Henderson is producing very little in his limited time. Aminu has been their third scorer, but a consistent number four hasn’t been there. The Meyers Leonard injury has hurt the Blazers there, though he was reportedly putting up shots before tonight’s game.
- Portland played a little better defensively tonight but mostly were subject to getting squeezed offensively. The Spurs have a top-five defense for a reason and with the perimeter combo of Leonard and Green as well as Duncan and Aldridge in the middle.
- Houston hasn’t been good. Portland has struggled against everybody no matter how those teams were playing coming in. Memphis was in a similar spot before playing Portland last Friday and they won.