Spurs lose to Trail Blazers in battle of the West’s best
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers were feeling good about themselves after withstanding a barrage from the San Antonio Spurs.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 13 rebounds, Wesley Matthews scored 24 points, and Portland overcame San Antonio’s second-half rally to beat the Spurs 109-100 on Friday night.
"To beat the best team in the West on their floor — that sticks out," Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "We showed a lot of resolve at both ends of the floor. I thought we had a good defensive game throughout, except for the stretch in the third quarter when they hit the 3s."
Damian Lillard had 21 points and eight assists and Mo Williams added 13 points as Portland snapped San Antonio’s six-game winning streak. Matthews shot 6 for 7 on 3-pointers, including going 3 for 3 in the final 4 minutes to snuff the Spurs’ hopes.
"My teammates were finding me," Matthews said. "They did the hard job and all I had to do was knock the shots down."
Manu Ginobili had a season-high 29 points, and Boris Diaw and Marco Belinelli added 14 points each for the Spurs. Tim Duncan had 13 points and Tony Parker added 12, but the two combined for just eight points in the second half.
"It was really intense," Lillard said. "We both played physical. There were a lot of fouls called, but that was how we knew we were going to win the game. Just keep playing the same way and sticking with it."
San Antonio (31-9) still holds the West’s best record, but came in with something to prove. The Spurs are aware of the criticism that they can’t beat an elite team, having now gone 1-8 against the West’s remaining top-five teams and the East’s best, Indiana.
"No, we don’t ignore anything," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "It’s like when we started the season the first thing we did was watch Game 6 in Miami (of the NBA Finals, which the Spurs lost in overtime). We look everything square in the eye and talk about what we need to do"
The Spurs needed to control Aldridge and Lillard, but struggled to contain either.
Portland was controlling the contest when Popovich was ejected with 7:18 left in the third quarter after drawing two technical fouls during a San Antonio timeout and the Trail Blazers leading 65-55.
"We knew eventually they would find their way back into the game, especially after Pop got tossed," Lillard said. "He looked like he wanted to get tossed because he just kept going off. I knew that that would spark something in their team. They got some calls they made some shots."
Popovich began his rant a minute earlier when Diaw fell to the court defensively after taking a bump from Aldridge that Popovich thought was a foul. Official Mark Ayotte issued the first technical after Popovich was screaming and following him around. The technical only further incensed Popovich, who was attempting to push aside his assistants to reach Ayotte when official Bill Kennedy issued a second technical.
The tirade sparked the fiery Ginobili, who scored 18 straight points to close the quarter and help San Antonio outscore Portland 33-12 following Popovich’s ejection.
"I got in the game and I had two wide-open shots, both went in," Ginobili said. "Things started to happen. They found me on a 3-point shot. I started to feel more confident and the whole situation was exciting. Things went our way in that third quarter."
After starting the game 2 for 8 on 3s, Belinelli and Ginobili made the team’s next three attempts to pull San Antonio to 73-66 with 3:31 left in the third.
Ginobili closed the quarter by making three free throws after inducing C.J. McCollum into a foul and then driving, hitting a 3-pointer and then driving into the lane from the right side of the 3-point line to the left side of the basket and spinning in a reverse layup with his left hand to give the Spurs a 78-77 lead entering the fourth.
Portland regained the lead at 88-87 on Aldridge’s 16-foot jumper with 6:21 remaining. After the teams exchanged leads for a few minutes, Aldridge and Matthews proved unstoppable.
Aldridge scored eight of Portland’s 11 points late in the game, and his jumper gave Portland a 97-93 lead.
San Antonio then began to double Aldridge, which left Matthews free to hit from long range. He made three consecutive 3s, with his final giving Portland a 105-96 lead with 1:25 remaining.
"We couldn’t keep that emotion up," Ginobili said. "Every time we made a run or played good defense, then they would get a 3 or an isolation for Aldridge and a bucket."
Ginobili sat for most of Portland’s run, with his only points in the final quarter came on a one-hand dunk with 31.7 seconds remaining.
Lillard only had three points in the fourth, but he had four assists in guiding the team to shoot 60 percent in the quarter.
Parker, who wore a compression sleeve on the bruised right shin, had trouble staying in front of Lillard. The second-year guard had 14 points in the first half and committed just one turnover in 18 minutes.
"I wish I was 100 percent tonight, but it happens," Parker said. "I’ll play, I’ll play on Sunday (at home against Milwaukee). It will all get better with time."
NOTES: Spurs F Matt Bonner left the game midway through the first quarter after suffering a nasal fracture on an elbow from Thomas Robinson. Bonner did not return and his status is unknown for Sunday’s home game against Milwaukee. … First-year assistant Jim Boylen took over as head coach when Popovich was ejected. Boylen was hired from Indiana after San Antonio lost long-time assistants Mike Budenholzer and Brett Brown in the offseason to head coaching positions in Atlanta and Philadelphia, respectively. … Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington and relief pitchers J.P. Arencibia and Neal Cotts were in attendance along with team executives. … Kennedy told Terry Stotts, `’We can’t get them all right," after the Portland coach kept haranguing him about a foul assessed on Lopez following his block of Ginobili.