Spurs chase for No. 1 takes hit with loss to Trail Blazers

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 15: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs goes to the basket against the Portland Trail Blazers on March 15, 2017 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)


The San Antonio Spurs’ quest for the No. 1 overall seed in the NBA took a hit on Wednesday night. A combination of poor defense and mistakes would be the Spurs undoing as they fell 110-106 to the Portland Trail Blazers at the AT&T Center.

Kawhi Leonard scored a team-high 34 points in the loss, while LaMarcus Aldridge returned from a minor heart arrhythmia to finish with 19. Pau Gasol and David Lee each came off the bench to score 12 for San Antonio, who fell one full game behind the Golden State Warriors for the best record in the NBA.

”I feel good,” Aldridge said of his return. ”It felt good to be back out there. We didn’t get a win, so that’s kind of tough to deal with. (But) happy to be out there with the teammates, just be playing again.”

San Antonio kept it close until late in the game as Portland took their biggest lead of seven. Aldridge would bring the Silver and Black within two with five straight points, but Leonard’s shot was short and the Spurs never got close again.

”I felt like my rhythm was good early and then I think my touch was off around the rim. That kind of bothered me,” Aldridge said. ”I definitely played better at the end. It’s the first game back. I’ll get better.”

The Trail Blazers were led by Damian Lillard’s game-high 36 points. C.J. McCollum added 26 points for Portland (30-37), who are battling with the Denver Nuggets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

San Antonio struggled to contain Lillard and McCollum, who combined to score 62 of Portland’s 110 points.

”Lillard and McCollum were super, but I thought they executed their offense great,” Spurs Gregg Popovich said. ”We just didn’t guard them tonight as well as we needed to.”

Player of the game:

Lillard is Project Spurs’ Player of the Game. His key shots and aggressive play left the Spurs confused and lost on the defensive end of the floor, especially in the fourth quarter.

Up next: The Spurs are now 52-15 on the season and will have a few day off before they take the court against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. inside the FedEx Forum,


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