PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Short-handed on bodies but not competitive spirit, the San Antonio Spurs found a way to grind out a win against a Trail Blazers team desperate to end its home losing streak.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 22 points, and Pau Gasol had 20 points and a season-high 17 rebounds as the Spurs beat Portland 93-91 on Wednesday night.
San Antonio, which trailed by six in the fourth quarter, took an 86-85 lead with 5:04 remaining on a layup by Manu Ginobili, but didn’t secure the victory until C.J. McCollum’s 3-point shot glanced off the rim at the buzzer.
The Spurs (22-10) were without starters Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. Recovering from quadriceps injuries, both were rested on the first night of a back-to-back.
Portland, coming off a 3-2 road trip, lost its fifth consecutive home game. The Blazers (16-15) are the only NBA team with a winning overall record but a losing mark at home.
San Antonio also overcame a season-high 22 turnovers, and lows in free throws made (five) and attempted (six).
“I told them if I could bottle that effort at the end of the game, they’d win 82 games,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “I thought we hung in there pretty good. Didn’t play great, but I’m really proud of the effort.”
San Antonio persevered by outrebounding Portland 53-38 and getting strong shooting performances from Aldridge and Gasol.
“He played big down there. He was more determined to get to the rim, and (was) making strong moves for us,” Aldridge said of Gasol.
The sloppiness wasn’t lost on the Spurs, however.
“We didn’t take care of the ball. That’s what kept them in the game for the most part. We’ve got to do a better job of being aware of the value of the ball and make better decisions,” Gasol said.
Patty Mills and Ginobili came off the bench to score 10 points apiece for San Antonio.
The Blazers struggled offensively, as their starting backcourt of McCollum and Damian Lillard combined to shoot 11 of 39. Lillard, hobbled throughout most of the second half by a sore knee, led Portland with 17 points. Jusuf Nurkic scored 15, while Evan Turner and Shabazz Napier scored 14 each for the Blazers.
McCollum, who was 5 of 22, had 13 points.
Portland coach Terry Stotts said Lillard’s lack of mobility affected his play-calling late in the game.
“I think if I’m able to play, we win that game. No question about it,” Lillard said.
San Antonio led 54-46 at halftime after a torrid first half from Aldridge and Gasol, who combined to shoot 15 of 20 from the floor.
The Spurs withstood a rough stretch during the third quarter, when Nurkic scored 11 points during a 17-4 run that gave the Blazers a 64-61 lead. But the Spurs recovered, grabbing a 74-72 lead after three quarters on Kyle Anderson’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
Spurs: San Antonio attempted only one free throw in the first half. Neither team shot a free throw during the first quarter. … Anderson (left MCL sprain) returned to action for the first time in nine games. Also back after missing two games was Danny Green (groin). … Leonard averaged 28.3 points in three games against Portland last season.
Trail Blazers: A semi-truck hauling a large trash bin lost control while driving down a steep road in Southwest Portland, plunging into Turner’s swimming pool Wednesday morning. Turner was home in bed at the time. The driver was taken to Oregon Health and Science University Medical Center with serious injuries. … McCollum missed his first 11 shots before finally hitting a 12-footer midway through the third quarter. … Portland tied a season high with 12 steals.