Spurs, Portland blazing trails for long seasons

The reeling San Antonio Spurs and the snake-bit Portland Trail Blazers square off Sunday at the AT&T Center in the Alamo City in search of answers and assurance that the light they see at the end of the tunnel is not an approaching train.

The Trail Blazers (13-9) have been better over the past month — but not by much. Portland heads to San Antonio on the heels of a 113-112 home loss to Denver on Friday that was its fourth defeat in five games.

CJ McCollum had 33 points but missed a last-second shot as the Trail Blazers came up short. Jusuf Nurkic added 17 points and 11 rebounds for Portland. Damian Lillard had 15 points after scoring 41 in the Trail Blazers’ previous game — a victory over Orlando.

“I saw CJ and he got a good look, it just didn’t fall,” Lillard said about the final play. “A lot of things we could have done to not be in that position, but we had our shot. It just didn’t fall.”

Portland fought back from a double-digit deficit in the third quarter to tie the game at 108 in the final minute.

“Another game we dug a hole in the first half,” Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “Defensively, two games in a row at least that defensively we dug a hole and had to come back in the second half. I was proud of the way we played in the second half, just disappointed in how we got in such a hole in the first half.”

The Spurs are looking for answers as well after a 136-105 loss to Houston on Friday. LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points to lead five San Antonio players in double-figure scoring in the setback, while DeMar DeRozan added 18, Derrick White tallied 11, and Bryn Forbes and Marco Belinelli scored 10 apiece for the Spurs.

San Antonio (10-12) is in a rare, extended funk, with Friday’s loss its second in a row. The Spurs are 4-10 since winning four straight in an eight-day span (Oct. 27-Nov. 3) and haven’t won back-to-back games since.

“We’re obviously discombobulated on offense, so a lot of that has to do with me,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “I’ve got to do a better job there. I think, defensively, we’ve obviously got to shore up our effort and our wisdom at that end of the court.”

It was the second straight blowout loss suffered by the Spurs, who were defeated 128-89 in Minnesota on Wednesday.

“At this time, it’s just a matter of keeping heads up, and good vibes and good energy, and some sort of momentum,” Spurs guard Patty Mills said. ” guess that’s all you can do in this situation. Guys feel embarrassed and deflated, and rightfully so.”

It’s the first time since 1987 that San Antonio has lost consecutive games by 30 or more points.

“It’s the big picture,” Mills said. “It’s who you represent when you put these jerseys on. It’s who we play for. It’s much bigger than that. We need to understand that we are here just for a short time among this organization that will be here for a lot longer than we are. We’ve to take pride in that. I think it’s understanding that we’re going to do this together as a team.”

Portland beat the Spurs at home on Oct. 20 in the first of four meetings this season. San Antonio owns a 84-83 all-time edge in the series and a 53-30 advantage in games played in the Alamo City.