The San Antonio Spurs know they have the defending champions coming to town on Saturday. The danger of not looking past the Portland Trail Blazers. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge made sure that did not happen.
Aldridge and Leonard combined for 44 points as the Spurs earned a 118-110 victory over the Blazers to remain perfect at home since last year.
Leonard and Aldridge finished with 22 points apiece, while Tony Parker added 18 points and 16 assists for San Antonio, who improved to 34-0 at home and won their 43 straight home game dating back to March 2015.
San Antonio led by two points at halftime and used a 39-24 third quarter to pull away, leading by as many as 18 points.
“We executed better, played better defense in the second half,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We switched and guarded a little better than we did in the first half.”
With the Spurs leading by 15, Popovich put in his bench to close the game. However, mental errors and missing defensive assignments had the coach less than pleased. He called three consecutive timeouts to get his team back on track.
“It’s always the big picture, no matter how the game is turning out,” said guard Patty Mills, who scored 17 points off the bench. “We’re trying to get better. We can’t fall into bad habits, especially at the end of games.”
Portland (35-34) was led by C.J. McCollum’s 26 points. Damian Lillard added 23 on 7-of-19 shooting and Mason Plumlee chipped in 12 for the Blazers, who are clinging to stay in the packed Western Conference playoff picture.
“A lot of things that we took away in the first half, we let them come out and have those to start the third,” Lillard said. “They started moving a little faster, playing with a little more confidence. They were sure of more things than they were in the first half.”
Now, the Silver and Black will put their perfect home record on the line against the defending champions. It is a game many fans have had circled on their calendars ever since January 25. The Spurs will finally get a chance to see where they stand with a team on a historic pace.
The Spurs are now 58-10 on the season and will return to the court on Saturday when they welcome Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors to the AT&T Center at 7:30 p.m.