Lillard, Blazers leave Spurs in the dust after 30-point rout

Danny Sanchez, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN ANTONIO --The young Portland Trail Blazers came into San Antonio trying to get a win from one of the best teams in the NBA.
They got the win with a performance from a rookie that awed everyone.
Damian Lillard had 35 points and nine assists to help the Trail Blazers defeat the Spurs 136-106 Friday night at the AT&T Center.
The front-runner for NBA rookie of the year was 12 of 20 from the field, 3 of 4 from the 3-point line and had no turnovers. His 14 points in the fourth quarter helped stretch an eight-point lead to 31. He nailed a 3-pointer with five minutes to play to make it 116-97.
"I got real aggressive," said Lillard on his second-half play. "The ball started going in. I noticed that I was getting a little separation, so I felt like it was working for us, so I kept being aggressive."
The first half was tied six times and there were six lead changes.
The second half, specifically the fourth quarter was a different story.
The Blazers took control in the fourth outscoring the Spurs 46-24. They scorched the nets, shooting 62 percent from the field for the game.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and J.J. Hickson added 23 points and 11 rebounds. Eric Maynor scored 20 points and Will Matthews added 15 as Portland improved to 28-32. Portland currently is two-and-a-half games behind Utah for the eighth playoff spot.
"They beat a lot of teams bad here," Lillard said. "It was a game that we needed, so that makes it bigger for us. The opportunity to make the playoffs is getting smaller with every loss, so for us to come into this building and win the game, I think that's what so big about it."
San Antonio, which had the best record in the NBA until Miami Heat's win on Friday night, struggled without its best player, Tony Parker, who is out for perhaps another three weeks. It was one week ago that the All-Star point guard landed on his left ankle and suffered a grade two sprain.
The Spurs face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, who are nipping at their heels for the top seed in the Western Conference.
"We want to win every game. That's our goal," said Spurs center Tiago Splitter. "The world's not going to fall if we're not number one. But Pop (Popovich) wants to win every game even if he rests a couple of players."
Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 20 points. Tim Duncan scored 18 points, Kawhi Leonard scored 16, Corey Joseph 13 and Danny Green 10 as San Antonio fell to 48-15. The Spurs dropped only their fourth home game of the season.
It was the most points the Spurs have given up this season, with the previous high, 134, coming against the Houston Rockets in overtime.
"I've been in this game a long time. ... It happens," said Spurs forward Stephen Jackson on the 30-point loss. "Our defense was terrible. That's not the way we play defense. They beat us. Damian Lillard had a hell of a game and their team followed suit. We didn't play as well as we should have, but we take our hats off to them."
The Trail Blazers got 33 of their 57 first-half points form Aldridge and Hickson, who shot a combined 14 of 22.
But Ginobili tied the game at 57 at halftime when he hit a 3-pointer with four seconds left on the clock.
"We played very well," said Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts. "Offensively, we shot the ball well, executed and passed. To come in here and win is hard enough, but to do it in that fashion is pretty remarkable. I'm really proud of my team."
Notes: Aldridge, the sixth-year forward, is the first NBA player to have more than 1,200 points and 500 rebounds this season. ... Portland center Meyers Leonard went down in the second quarter. He was diagnosed with a right ankle sprain and did not return to the game. ... The Spurs are in sync on both ends of the court. They rank in the top five in offensive efficiency, sitting at fifth with 107.5 ppg, and defensive efficiency ranking third at 97.7 points per game. ... The Trail Blazers have fared well in San Antonio, going 4-3 in their past seven visits. Portland won the season series 2-1. ... The Spurs honored the men and women in the military with Military Appreciation Night. More than 1,500 tickets were donated to military personnel and their families, and many tributes to the military were displayed throughout the game.

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