Trail Blazers too much for Spurs
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Nicolas Batum said the 3-pointer at the buzzer that gave him a triple-double against San Antonio was the worst thing he’s ever done in his career.
With the victory already in hand, Batum tossed his shot up from about 25 feet to cap the Portland Trail Blazers’ 115-105 victory over the Spurs on Saturday night. The forward from France finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.
He said he honestly didn’t believe it would fall. And when it did, he immediately felt bad about it.
“I don’t mean to disrespect this team,” Batum said. “I’ve got three triple-doubles in my career. This one didn’t count.”
Damian Lillard had 25 points, seven assists and seven rebounds, and LaMarcus Aldridge added 24 points for the Blazers, who led by as many as 13 points in winning their 13th straight home opener.
But it was Batum’s finish that provided the drama for the fans at the Moda Center, formerly the Rose Garden Arena.
Marco Belinelli hit a 3-pointer that pulled the Spurs to 104-100 with 1:24 left. After Lillard made two free throws, Tim Duncan scored on a running hook shot.
Wesley Matthews dunked for Portland but Belinelli hit another 3 to make it 108-105 with 19 seconds left. Lillard and Batum made free throws before Batum hit his long 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left.
Batum casually threw the ball up, then shrugged in disbelief when it swished through the net.
“I didn’t really think about it but I know it was a bad thing to do. I want to apologize to the Spurs organization,” he said. “That didn’t show a good side of myself or the Blazers organization. I did not want to disrespect this team. `’
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said no offense was taken.
“Why would I be mad at that?” he asked. “He’s a good kid. I don’t care.”
Only five other Blazers have had as many three triple-doubles with the team: Sidney Wicks, Bill Walton, Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter and Damon Stoudemire.
Duncan finished with 24 points in the first loss this season for the Western Conference champions. The 16-year veteran sat out the Spurs’ 91-85 win Friday night against the Lakers after bruising his chest in Wednesday’s season-opening victory over Memphis.
“We’re gonna win games and we’re gonna lose games. It’s just how it goes,” Duncan said. “We’re gonna use the entire 82 games to put a team together and have everybody on the same page once the playoffs start.
“We’re gonna win some games and we’re gonna lose some games and we’re not going to freak out about it.”
The Blazers were also playing the second game of a back-to-back. Aldridge scored nine of his 25 points late in the fourth quarter to help the Blazers hold off Denver 113-98, snapping the Nuggets’ 23-game regular-season home winning streak.
The Blazers jumped to an 18-11 lead against the Spurs, with Aldridge scoring 10 points. San Antonio tied it at 26 on Boris Diaw’s short jumper.
Portland went ahead 37-31 on Lillard’s 3-pointer 3:58 before the break, and last season’s Rookie of the Year added two long jumpers to extend the lead to 41-33.
Aldridge made a fast-break jumper to give Portland a 50-39 halftime. He led all scorers with 14 points in the first half.
The Spurs closed the gap to 71-67 in the third quarter on Diaw’s basket and free throw, and Manu Ginobili’s 3-pointer. But Lillard hit a clutch 3 just before the third quarter ended to give the Blazers an 82-74 lead.
Blazers center Robin Lopez, acquired from the Pelicans in an offseason trade, hit a turnaround jumper that put Portland up 84-72.
“They made a push (at the end). We knew they would,” Lillard said. “So as a point guard I wanted to make sure we slowed down and got quality looks.”
NOTES: The Blazers dropped their season opener on the road to Phoenix, 104-91. … Portland encouraged a “white-out” for the opener by giving all the fans a “This is Rip City” T-shirt on their seats. … Portland claimed last season’s series with the Spurs 2-1. … The Blazers have won three straight against the Spurs, and they are 13-5 over the last 18 against San Antonio. Popovich was asked why Portland gives his team so much trouble: “When you figure that out you tell me and I’m going to use it because nobody has been able to figure that out yet.”