The Portland Trail Blazers entered the Moda Center on Thursday night looking to overcome San Antonio Spurs, a team with only four wins to its name all season. But beating Tottenham means solving the Victor Wembanyama problem. That's probably more than Portland can handle on a good day, let alone a game they started without three-fifths of their starting lineup. A huge first period put the Spurs up by 24. Portland rallied the rest of the night, but never got closer, eventually getting beaten 118-105.
Wembanyama scored 30 points on 9-14 shooting with 6 rebounds, 6 assists and 7 blocks in the win. Jerami Grant led the Blazers with 29 points, matched by Malcolm Prodjohn, who shot 6-8 from long range for 29 points.
Scott Henderson started the game against San Antonio, playing 36 minutes and scoring 25 points on 8-23 shooting. He also had 6 turnovers.
If you missed the event, you can read our quarter-by-quarter recap here. Having said that, here are some other notes that distinguished the evening.
Before we beat the Trail Blazers down for an underwhelming performance, let's remember who they are It wasn't Playing tonight. Anfernee Simons was scratched on match day due to illness. Shaydon Sharp is not back yet, depriving the Blazers of two of their most dynamic and disruptive scorers on defense. Deandre Ayton is still dealing with hamstring tendinitis, while Dube Reith — the 25-point hero in Portland's upset win over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night — ended up being a scratch as well.
That left Moses Brown, Scott Henderson and Malcolm Brogdon in the starting line-up around Jerami Grant and Toumani Kamara. This trio is prepared and has proven at least semi-competent, but they are not setting the world on fire, especially offensively.
The lack of firepower on Portland's part allowed the Spurs to rally on Grant, loosening another cog in the machine.
Portland may not have won anyway, but they had no chance as it stood, once San Antonio started scoring big.
No one has a real answer for a 7'3 multi-skilled center with point guard handles and a shooting guard range. The Blazers didn't have a prayer of bothering him with this lineup, nor making him work hard on defense, really.
By halftime, Victor Wimpanyama had scored 17 points for Portland on 6-7 shooting. He also had 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 5 blocks. In half. It wasn't fair.
Simply put, whenever San Antonio needed to keep Portland at bay in its desperate bid to come back from a 38-14 halftime lead, Wimpanyama did just that. Dad was picking up the annoying cat from the desk and putting it on the floor. He may have to do this a few times before Kitty gets the message, but you know who will win.
Side note: You don't even understand how impactful Wembanyama was on the defensive end of the court until you notice that his seven blocks were surrounded by countless moves in which drivers had to get away from him, change lanes and change shots to stay out. His arrival. Once upon a time, Portland center Theo Ratliff used to have that effect on opponents. He was one of the best shot blockers of all time, and his reputation preceded him. After 29 games and about 14 minutes of personal experience in Portland, Wimpanyama has already earned that respect from the Blazers. surprising.
All things considered, Scott Henderson wasn't too bad in his debut tonight. He had a surge in the second quarter to make the game respectable. He timed his movements well, even if he had difficulty finishing. His defense was decent. The overall stat line doesn't look that impressive, but at least San Antonio knew it was there. More pitchers than just Brogdon in his orbit would have helped him. The Blazers shot just 11-36, 30.6%, from the arc tonight. This allowed San Antonio to sit on the scooter, forcing them to make a bunch of shots from outside, including 7 3-pointers. He hit a 3, so no damage done, but his inside attempts came in dangerous traffic whether Wimpy was on the ground or not.
With Ayton out, Moses Brown eaten, and Jabari Walker in and out due to getting hit, Eboue Badjie got his first serious playing time of the season tonight. He was impressive, scoring his first NBA points by nailing a layup that Henderson missed hard. He also rebounded well, blocked the shot and played solidly despite being dangerously overrun on paper. Badji seemed determined to ruin the match if he could not help his team win it. The Blazers might need a little more of that. His final stat line reads 14 minutes, 7 points, 9 rebounds, 3-3 shooting, and 3 blocked shots. Hello Aibo.
Bad condition of runs
Portland's attempts at a comeback were certainly not aided by a near-constant stream of Spurs points on the run. Portland's misses have often led to easy run-outs, not to mention turnovers. San Antonio held a 21-2 advantage in fast break points tonight. This is a head shake. Because it's not usually better than average.
We can point to a lot of things the Blazers did poorly in this game: early turnovers, lack of points in the paint, and terrible overall shooting percentage. But let's point out one of the pluses. They grabbed 22 offensive rebounds from the Spurs, and only gave up 7. For better or worse, this remains a point of emphasis for the team, and they have already emphasized it.
The Blazers face the same Spurs team tomorrow at the Moda Center at the same start time, 7:00 PM PT.
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