Tony Parker, Danny Green pace San Antonio Spurs past Portland Trail Blazers - Kogonuso


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Dec 31, 2016

Tony Parker, Danny Green pace San Antonio Spurs past Portland Trail Blazers

By Steve Habel, The Sports Xchange
San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
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SAN ANTONIO -- One of the things that makes San Antonio so tough to beat is its balanced scoring, an aspect that takes a backseat most games to the Spurs' tenacious defense and the dual star power of Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
But the Spurs can win without Leonard and almost without Aldridge, and showed it on Friday. Backcourt mates Tony Parker and Danny Green scored 18 points apiece and San Antonio had five players in double figures as they roared from behind and beat the Portland Trail Blazers, 110-94, at the AT&T Center.
Winners of four in a row, the Spurs trailed by five points at halftime but led by seven after three quarters. San Antonio was at its best early in the fourth in blowing past the reeling Trail Blazers.
It was the eighth time this season, and the fourth game in a row, that San Antonio (27-6) had at least a 20-point lead at some point in the contest. The Spurs have led by at least 15 points during a game 18 times this year.
Both teams played without their top scorers as the Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard was nursing an ankle injury and the Leonard was dealing with gastroenteritis.
Jonathon Simmons led San Antonio with 19 points, Manu Ginobili had 14 and Pau Gasol added 10 points for the Spurs. LaMarcus Aldridge was held to eight points and shot just three field goals (making two) in 30 minutes of action.
"We have a lot of weapons -- there's no question about it," Gasol said. "We don't depend on just one guy or two guys scoring the ball. Tonight, Portland did a good job of packing the lane to limit LaMarcus and that forced our shooters to make shots and they did that. We are very versatile and attack teams with all our arsenal."
C.J. McCollum led the Trail Blazers with 29 points and Maurice Harkless and Allen Crabbe added 12 and 11 points, respectively, for Portland. The Trail Blazers (14-21) have lost seven of their past eight games.
The Spurs' sloppiness in the first quarter combined with Portland's hot outside shooting allowed the Trail Blazers to forge a 32-22 lead at the end of 12 minutes of play. San Antonio's nine turnovers in the period led to 10 points for Portland while the Trail Blazers shot 65 percent from the floor, led by Harkless' and Sabazz Napier's eight points each, with every basket from the perimeter.
Portland cooled off some in the second quarter as the Spurs were better on the defensive end and took better care of the ball. A 3-pointer by Green and two free throws by Gasol cut the Trail Blazers' lead to 50-47, but another turnover by San Antonio opened the floor for a layup by McCollum that pushed Portland's advantage to 52-47 at halftime.
"We were very good defensively and we moved the ball offensively and we played a great first half," Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "San Antonio played well in the second half and shot its 3-pointers really well. We didn't play up to their level after halftime. They just don't stop playing -- the Spurs just keep playing at both ends of the court. They trust each other and just wear you down."
McCollum led all scorers with 15 points in the first half while Harkless added 10 for the Trail Blazers. Green paced the Spurs with nine points but Aldridge, who had scored 60 points in his past two games, had just two shots from the field and only two points.
San Antonio had 14 turnovers in the first half, resulting in 14 Portland points.
"We played good defense in the second half, holding Portland to 42 points," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "That's how we got back in the game. We turned it over three times in the second half instead of 14, so that was the ballgame for us -- playing better defense, not turning it over and finding some combinations that worked."
The Spurs tied the game at 54 early in the third quarter on a jumper by Parker before Portland forged an 8-3 run to rebuild its five-point lead at 62-57. But San Antonio kept chipping away, eventually taking its first lead since the game's opening minutes on ringing 3-pointer by Ginobili and pushing it to 74-67 on a 3-pointer by Simmons and two free throws by Ginobili.
Two jumpers by Patty Mills and a turnaround one-hander by David Lee staked the Spurs to an 80-73 lead at the end of the third quarter.
The Spurs took any suspense out of the game by scoring 13 of the first 17 points in the final quarter, pushing their advantage to 93-76 with 8:46 to play.
"We had a strong game plan to stop Aldridge but eventually the Spurs just went on their run," Trail Blazers guard Evan Turner said. "We played good basketball in the first half but we couldn't sustain it. Obviously we need to step in up as team to get things turnaround now -- we have to keep competing."
NOTES: It's the second straight game F Kawhi Leonard has missed because of illness. He played in the Spurs' first 31 contests. ... San Antonio F LaMarcus Aldridge played his first nine NBA seasons with Portland (2006-2015), averaging 19.4 points and 8.4 rebounds in 648 games (607 starts). ... Injured Trail Blazers G Damian Lillard has made 910 3-pointers in his NBA career, putting him ahead of Stephen Curry for the second-most threes by a player in his first five seasons in NBA history (Curry-905). ... The Spurs and Trail Blazers played in Portland a week ago with San Antonio handing the Trail Blazers a 110-90 defeat. ... San Antonio has won four consecutive games against Portland, its largest winning streak against the Trail Blazers since winning a franchise-best 12 straight games from April 12, 2005 to April 6, 2008.

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