Spurs vs. Blazers reactions: Second half struggles lead to loss
By Rob Wolkenbrod
Reactions to Sunday night’s game between the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers.
On Sunday night, the San Antonio Spurs started the first of a back-to-back. It took them to the West Coast, with the opener of a three-game trip that goes to Portland, Sacramento and Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, for the Spurs, it started on a sour note. The Blazers came back from multiple deficits to top the Silver and Black, 111-110. This included a game-winning shot from CJ McCollum, with just seconds remaining.
Win or lose, reactions will carry over from this game. How do things stand after the one-point loss? Let’s take a look:
The starters were missed
Without Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, the Spurs were left with Bryn Forbes, Dejounte Murray and Kyle Anderson in the starting lineup. These players all proved their worth at some point in the season, but on Sunday night, they were missed.
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Resting Parker forced head coach Gregg Popovich to give Murray 21 minutes. That’s not an issue, but his streaky shooting was, as he went just 1-for-6 from the field.
Anderson, who was the most consistent of the three, had just four shot attempts in 36 minutes. He finished with 8 points.
Forbes stayed active and had 10 points on 5-for-10 shooting. As we’ll soon note, the defensive gap between he and Green was clear.
The Spurs may not have Leonard for a while, so look for more of Anderson in the lineup, with the potential to rebound in Monday’s game. Forbes and Murray will depend on the statuses of Green’s groin and when Popovich wants to rest Parker, respectively.
Next: Aldridge shows off
LaMarcus Aldridge shows off vs. his former team
It has been over two years since LaMarcus Aldridge faced his former team, the Blazers, but he still with fire against them. That was the case on Sunday, as the team’s 2006 draft pick delivered a solid performance, from start to finish.
Aldridge got into first-quarter foul trouble, which was a concern. Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic went after him aggressively, causing the Spurs power forward to draw two fouls. After that, it was quiet, which allowed the 32-year-old to take over the game in his usual mid-range shots and fadeaways from the basket.
After 35 minutes, Aldridge scored 30 points on 12-for-21 shooting. Add in 14 rebounds, and you can consider it a successful night. It wasn’t in a win, but still a very good showing from the team’s leading scorer.
.@aldridge_12 will not be denied! #GoSpursGo
? #FOXSportsSW ?https://t.co/yfwcIgw9Ou pic.twitter.com/rEeCNWUVkF
— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) January 8, 2018
Spurs get hurt by opposing guard play
When the Blazers announced that star point guard Damian Lillard wouldn’t play, it took away one of the NBA’s most talented scoring point guards, and easily the team’s best player. The problem, however, was the Spurs got torched by the duo of CJ McCollum and Shabazz Napier.
McCollum and Napier combined for 40 points on 54 percent shooting, as they somewhat easily handled the defense thrown at them. Bryn Forbes, who started at shooting guard, wasn’t known for his two-way play, so he leaves a little to be desired compared to Danny Green. It also doesn’t help that the former Lehigh star is among the best-scoring guards in the league.
Napier was the surprise star of this game. He shot just 7-for-23 in his previous three games but had a breakout stretch that preceded it, with three consecutive 20 point performances.
Next: Ginobili did what?
Manu Ginobili did what?
Even though the Spurs fell off in the second half, bright spots still filled the night. That included another ageless performance from Manu Ginobili. After 21 points in 19 minutes vs. the Phoenix Suns, he delivered 26 points in 27 minutes in Portland. It came on 9-for-16 shooting, so there was a high volume but he made over 50 percent of his attempts.
These turn-back-the-clock games may not last forever, but a treat while they last. For short-handed nights, like this, it was much needed, too.
Manu Ginobili is the first player in his 40s to score 15+ points in back-to-back games since Michael Jordan in 2002-03.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 8, 2018
Amazingly, it took 16 seasons for this to happen. So, it makes Ginobili’s night even more special. Let’s see what kind of 40-and-up record he pulls off next.
It’s the halfway point
With the conclusion of Sunday’s game, the Spurs reached the halfway point of the 2017-18 season. At 27-14, they are 41 games in, with 41 to go, on the quest toward a championship. It has come with roadblocks and inconsistency, but the team remains at No. 3 in the Western Conference, even with Leonard appearing in just right of those games.
The second half kicks off on Monday night, with a game vs. the Sacramento Kings. There’s ground to pick up on, especially with the Houston Rockets 1.5 games ahead. The Golden State Warriors may be impossible to reach, but claiming the No. 2 seed at least guarantees homecourt advantage in Round 1 and 2 of the playoffs.
Next: Top 25 players in Spurs history
How will the Spurs perform in the second half? The adventure starts soon.