Spurs need to corral Blazers’ Damian Lillard for 4th straight win
The San Antonio Spurs will be in search of a season-high fourth straight win when they host the surging Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
To do so, the Spurs will have to find a way to stop Portland’s Damian Lillard, who shot the Trail Blazers to consecutive home wins over Minnesota and is on fire heading into San Antonio.
The Spurs have rebounded from an 11-game losing streak by winning their past three contests, including a 112-111 home victory over Cleveland on Monday. San Antonio hit key shots down the stretch and produced defensive stops in the waning seconds.
“(We are) playing with a little bit of grunt — more physicality, more purposeful movement, people being responsible for who they are guarding,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the win. “Taking some pride in it and it follows through on the board. That’s what kept us in the game, and we’re fortunate to make some shots tonight.”
Josh Richardson scored 24 points off the bench and Keldon Johnson blocked the potential game-winning shot in the final seconds as San Antonio came up big at the end after nearly coughing up a 16-point halftime lead.
Johnson added 21 points for the Spurs, with Devin Vassell scoring 16, Tre Jones hitting for 15 and Charles Bassey taking 11 rebounds (six offensive).
“We’re putting this together day by day,” Johnson said. “That’s all we can ask for. We’re a young team putting it together. On to Portland.”
Rookie Jeremy Sochan returned after missing five games with a quad injury but Jakob Poeltl (right knee bone bruise) will likely not be available for Wednesday’s game.
The Trail Blazers travel to San Antonio for the beginning of a six-game road trip after a dominating 133-112 win over Minnesota on Monday. Lillard matched his career high of 11 3-pointers and scored 38 points in three quarters of action.
There are few players in the world that can get hot like Lillard can and he was feeling it on Monday, calling for the ball and letting it fly from 35 and 40 feet away at times.
“I’m gonna shoot it until they run out,” Lillard said about his confidence when his shot is on target. “It’s one of those situations where you start seeing the ball going, I think you just gotta let it ride. And that’s what I was doing.
“Each opportunity where I felt like there was a window where I could get a 3 off, I was shooting it. It didn’t matter the distance. If I felt like I could get it off pretty clean, then I was gonna get it off.”
Lillard tied his franchise-record total of 11 3-pointers in a regular-season game for the third time. He canned 12 in a playoff contest against the Denver Nuggets in June 2021.
Jerami Grant added 24 points, and Jusuf Nurkic had 14 points and 16 rebounds as Portland completed a two-game sweep of Minnesota in a home mini-series. Shaedon Sharpe had 14 points and Anfernee Simons added 12 for the Trail Blazers.
The Trail Blazers won the first contest of the series with the Timberwolves on Friday behind Lillard’s 36 points.
Portland has won four of its past five games, with the only loss in that stretch by one point at home against Denver when Lillard scored 40.
–Field Level Media