The NBA is just like any other sport. Some nights you play well and lose -- like Tuesday's home loss to Boston -- and other times, you win – and do it without your best game.
The Trail Blazers won 107-106 without their best game – and Damian Lillard – Friday night in San Antonio, surviving three Spurs’ misses in the waning seconds.
Portland played poorly for most of the first half but tightened its defense enough in the second half to rally from a 16-point deficit to steal the win against a team that has now lost 11 of its last 15 games.
The Blazers pushed their record to 3-0 without Lillard this season, getting 29 points from CJ McCollum and a total of 39 from the off-the-bench trio of Carmelo Anthony, Anfernee Simons and Enes Kanter.
San Antonio stayed in the game – and in the lead for a good part of the game – by taking the ball inside against the Portland defense.
The Spurs were able to get 62 points off 50 shots in the paint. San Antonio centers Drew Eubanks and Jakob Poeltl combined to go 15-18 from the field for 32 points. They came into the game averaging a combined 12.8 points per game.
“Well, (the Spurs) are going to score in some way,” Blazer Coach Terry Stotts said. “They did a nice job of finishing around the paint. Poeltl made some floaters.
“You know, they’re a perimeter team. We extended our defense on DeRozan and Mills, sometimes it was that, sometimes it was offensive rebounds, sometimes it was just them making good shots.
“But ultimately, I look at the final score, and final score was, ‘We won.’”
Well, true. But San Antonio is usually not known as a “perimeter team.” It ranks 29th in the league in three-point attempts and last in frequency of threes attempted.
“Well, perimeter doesn’t always mean three-point shots,” Stotts said.
OK. I stand corrected.
The Spurs got a lot of paint points and the two centers took and made a lot more shots than they usually take and make. Not sure that speaks well for the Portland defense.
But a win is a win. And this team needs all of those it can get.