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Spurs fourth-quarter surge dooms Trail Blazers

  1. Written by: KevinHudson

    The Portland Trail Blazers fell 99-83 to the Spurs Friday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, on a night when a fast start for the visitors ended with a disappointing finish as the home team dominated the fourth quarter.

    "It was a tough loss. We had control of both halves and then we just let it slip away," said LaMarcus Aldridge. "They put pressure on us, crashed the boards hard and they just had more energy than us tonight. We had control, we just didn’t stay solid."

    The game was tied at 67-67 after three quarters when the Spurs bench broke it open with a 14-0 run to start the fourth and take an 81-67 lead. Tiago Splitter scored 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting and Danny Green added 13 off the San Antonio bench, each doubling his season average as the Spurs reserves outscored Portland's 39-17.

    "We did a pretty good job coming off the bench helping the guys ands playing hard," Splitter said. "Gary (Neal) played like the point guard and Danny (Green) brought energy and  it’s hard to match-up against us."

    Aldridge led all scorers with 29 points but was forced to the bench midway through the third quarter when he was whistled for his fifth foul.

    By the time Aldridge got back in the game, (four minutes into the fourth quarter), the damage was done and the Spurs led comfortably. The Trail Blazers would cut the lead to single digits with less than five minutes to play but couldn't get any closer.

    Perhaps more worrisome for the Trail Blazers than their second consecutive loss (the first time this season the team has lost consecutive games) was the injury ankle suffered by Marcus Camby in the second quarter.

    Camby left the game and did not return but reports indicated that x-rays of the ankle were negative and the 37-year-old center will be listed as day-to-day with a sprain.

    "I thought I was going to be able to just get up and walk it off or run it off. I just really can’t put a lot of weight on it now, so I’m going to stick to the treatments and try to get out on the court as quickly as possible," Camby said.

    San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich acknowledged that his team benefited from Camby's absence after the injury.

    "He is a tough nut to crack down there. He is really good," Popovich said. "He had a couple of blocks before he got hurt and it certainly does change things on the boards for them and defensively.

    Portland (7-4) started the game well offensively, scoring 15 fastbreak points and shooting 59 percent from the field in the first quarter to lead 31-27 on the strength of 14 points from Aldridge, nine from Gerald Wallace and eight points, three assists for Raymond Felton.

    Wallace went on to record Portland's lone double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds while Felton tallied 13 points, seven assists and five steals.

    The Trail Blazers offense sputtered after the 31-point opening stanza, scoring just 16 points in the second and 18 points in each of the third and fourth quarters.

    "I think we were just kind of freelancing with what we do and we got to work together on both ends of the floor," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "Offensively, we stopped recognizing what was working, which was going inside to L.A. (LaMarcus Aldridge). We got to understand how we want to play, which is from the inside-out and play out of that. I thought we went away from that."

    San Antonio (8-4) got a double-double from 6-foot-7 center DeJuan Blair with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Tony Parker led the Spurs with 20 points while dishing out nine assists and rookie Kawhi Leonard added 11 points and five boards.

    Tim Duncan was held to just seven points but grabbed nine rebounds to help the Spurs outrebound the Trail Blazers 50-36.

    Portland completes its Texas back-to-back at Houston Saturday, 5:30 p.m., (Comcast SportsNet, 750 AM The Game).

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