PORTLAND – The Portland Trail Blazers (2-4), could not hold on to an early lead against the San Antonio Spurs (6-1) as Portland has now last three consecutive games after opening the season 2-1. The Blazers entered the second half with a 52-43 lead, but surrendered 69 points in the second half on defense, and were unable to keep up in the shootout.
Budding star Nicolas Batum had one of the most impressive games of his young career, but was just long on a potential game-tieing 3-point shot that could have sent the game into overtime. Batum finished the game with 33 points and seven rebounds, but was disappointed with the outcome of the game.
“We should have won the game before that. I need to make those shots, but we should have won the game before that,” said Batum after the game.
The key difference in the game was the bench scoring. San Antonio’s bench outscored the Blazers 63-4. Yes, you read that correctly. Rookie Meyers Leonard (2) and Sasha Pavlovic (2) each recorded one basket for a total of four points. Portland’s bench shot 2-10 in the game. As for Spurs, backup Gary Neal led the team with 27 points.
“He carried us on his back,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said about Neal’s performance in the game. “Sometimes a player will do that, and he picked a good time for it.”
The Spurs have had troubles, like many teams, escaping the Rose Garden with a victory. The Spurs had lost seven straight games at Portland.
“It was exciting, just to be part of a win like that,” said Neal. “Since I’ve been here we haven’t beat Portland in Portland, so it was a big win. A great, great team win. I’m glad we were able to pull it out in the end.”
Despite Portland’s youth, the Spurs looked like the young and spirited team on the court. Veteran and future hall of famer Tim Duncan nearly recorded another double-double with 22 points and nine rebounds. Duncan also had a team-high three blocks.
Across from Duncan was Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, who had a season-high 29 points on 12-26 shooting. Aldridge is eighth in the league in scoring at 21.8 PPG. As of now, he’s on pace for another all-star season.
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