Blazers, Spurs aim to get back on track

NBA Basketball

The San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers, who let their most recent games slip away in the final minutes, will look to get back on the winning path when they square off Friday night in the Alamo City.

The Trail Blazers head to San Antonio after a 116-115 home setback to Boston on Tuesday. Portland, which had 31 assists and shot 47.8 percent from the floor, was within one possession of winning the game.

Damian Lillard amassed 28 points and 10 assists in the loss to Boston while Carmelo Anthony had 25 points off the bench. Teammates Norman Powell added 20 and CJ McCollum 16.

The Trail Blazers have lost four of their past five games and are just 2-8 since the All-Star break against teams that currently have winning records.

“It’s on us,” Anthony said. “We’ve got to step it up. I think it’s something that we feel. We know we’re coming down to the stretch of the season, trying to solidify ourselves as one of those eight teams in the playoffs, in the postseason. So we’ve got to get ready for that. But we can’t let these games slip away.”

Lillard said he was encouraged by the desire and effort his team showed against the Celtics.

“Our past few efforts, it felt like the energy was just taken out of us,” Lillard explained. “At certain parts of the game, we just kind of let them get away from us and didn’t play or perform like ourselves. I think we all just understood that the way we’ve been playing in the last week just hasn’t been good enough.”

The Spurs missed an excellent opportunity to continue to build momentum for the stretch run when they dropped a 117-112 decision on the road to shorthanded Toronto on Wednesday in Tampa.

Derrick White led the Spurs with 25 points, with Patty Mills scoring 23, DeMar DeRozan racking up 19 points and 11 assists, and Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson hitting for 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Toronto outplayed the Spurs despite missing four key players and being on the second game of a back-to-back. The Raptors outrebounded San Antonio 54-42 and had 13 fast-break points and 48 points in the paint to the Spurs’ 36.

“We didn’t have the physical stature we needed to have, and it showed up in second-chance points and fast-break points,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “They just beasted us in several ways, so their big lineup worked well for them.”

San Antonio concluded a five-game trip with the loss, which snapped the team’s two-game winning streak. The Spurs went 2-3 on the trip, losing twice in Denver before winning in Dallas and Orlando.

“We made a lot of mistakes defensively,” DeRozan said of the loss to Toronto. “We lost guys, and they killed us on the boards. They definitely kicked our [expletive] on the boards. That kind of hurt. And we let them get out in transition and get some buckets. I feel like everything was basically on us.”

DeRozan said the team will go back to work.

“You have the moments where the mental fatigue can kick in … but you got to get through it,” he said. “You can’t make no excuses. It is a job at the end of the day.”

–Field Level Media

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