It was a matinee MLK Jr. Day matchup between the Trail Blazers and Spurs.
It was also a physical one.
While Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge put on an offensive clinic, Aldridge took advantage of Portland sagging off him in the pick and roll, especially early in the game. LA had a quick eight points in six minutes.
It was a close game throughout. San Antonio took a 32-28 lead at the end of the first quarter. After the Spurs took a 59-54 lead at halftime and pushed their lead to 10 in the third, the Spurs continued to build off that.
Behind Aldridge’s 22 points, San Antonio beat Portland 125-104 after starting the fourth quarter on a 10-3 run.
Heading into the final period, the game had been close throughout.
Blazers wing Rodney Hood stepped in to start at the two spot for the injured CJ McCollum. Hood gave the Blazers a nice offensive boost starting the game with seven quick points. Hood’s contributions on both ends were felt Monday.
The Blazers went with a 10-man rotation, with Nassir Little seeing minutes in the first half, showing off its depth with both McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic sidelined.
Rodney Hood came to play.
In his starting role at shooting guard, he finished with a season-high 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting to go along with two assists.
Just when it looked like the Spurs were going to go on a big run, the Blazers got a timely stop midway through the second quarter that seemed to give Portland more energy to finish out the half.
It was all thanks to Derrick Jones Jr.’s block on DeMar DeRozan. DJJ then notched a chase down block on Aldridge just a few minutes into the third.
Jones Jr. was everywhere on defense, while working the baseline on the offensive end.
As for Portland’s All-Star, Lillard played through shoulder pain after getting pulled to the floor in the first quarter while he was driving to the hoop. He finished with 35 points and six assists.
It was another game with inconsistent defense for Portland, which Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts has said has been the biggest challenge so far this season.
The Spurs took it at Portland while running a successful pick and roll a majority of the night. If it wasn’t Aldridge, it was San Antonio’s guards finding their spots and knocking down mid-range jumpers or threes.
In the final seconds of the second quarter, Damian Lillard showed off his ability to finish at the rim with ease in traffic:
Coach Stotts discussed what went into his decision to start Rodney Hood in place of the injured CJ McCollum.
Portland did not shoot well from three all game. The Blazers finished the game shooting 29.4 from deep to the Spurs' 45.5 percent.
Next up: The Trail Blazers welcome in the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday and Friday. Portland and Memphis will tip-off at 7:00p.m. PST Wednesday on NBCSNW.