Spurs survive in Portland to open road trip: Three Standout Players

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LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol combined for 42 points as they led the San Antonio Spurs to a thrilling 93-91 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers (16-15) at the Moda Center on Wednesday night.

San Antonio earned the win despite some sloppy play in the second half and missing two of their best players in Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker. However, that was not a problem for Gasol and Aldridge, as the pair dominated in the paint, leading the Silver and Black to victory.

Here is what went good and bad for the Spurs, as well as three standout players: Aldridge, Gasol, and Patty Mills.

The Good:

  • After suffering a strained MCL against the Oklahoma City Thunder on December 3, Kyle Anderson made his return to the lineup. He finished with five points, six rebounds, and three assists in 24 minutes.
  • Manu Ginobili once again came up big for San Antonio, scoring 10 points, including going 2-for-4 from three point range.
  • The Spurs won in Portland, a place they have not had much luck in seasons past.

The Bad:

  • San Antonio committed 22 turnovers in the game and saw Portland go on an 8-0 run to begin the fourth quarter. During the run, the Spurs turned the ball over three times and two consecutive times.
  • Danny Green returned from injury, but left the game in the second half. It appears he re-aggrivated his groin going in for a dunk following a steal. It looks like he might be out tomorrow night in Utah.
  • The Spurs shot just six free throws the entire game, with Aldridge taking three of them. Maybe the officials let the guys play or San Antonio was not aggressive enough drawing fouls, but that stat is crazy.
  • Davis Bertans played four minutes, but took no shots in his time on the floor.

Three Standout Players:

    LaMarcus Aldridge: When you return to your old team and dominate, you are going to be a standout player. Aldridge finished with 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, clearly not letting the booing Blazers crowd get in his head.

Portland coach Terry Stotts put Al-Farouq Aminu on Aldridge, which limited him in the second half. Despite the tougher defense and double teams, the Spurs forward remained aggressive and drew the three point play in the second half off Aminu, giving the Blazers no answer for Aldridge.

    Pau Gasol: Helping Aldridge hold down the fort in the paint was Pau Gasol and he turned back the clock on the young Blazers. Gasol posted a double-double with 20 points and 17 rebounds, becoming the first Spur since Tim Duncan to have a 20/15/5 game since Tim Duncan did it three years ago.

Gasol and Aldridge combined for 42 points and 25 rebounds, showing old school basketball can still exist in a new generation of three point shots and high scoring offenses. Gasol turned back the clock to his L.A. Lakers days as he banged down low with Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic and had his best game of the season in the process.

    Patty Mills: Some might forget it, but Patty Mills use to play in Portland way back when. He returned to play against his old team and it seemed to light a fire under the Aussie guard. Mills finished with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting (62 percent).

The fan favorite guard has had an up and down start to the season, but the last few games has seen him get back into form. Spurs fans can only hope as the team gets to finally be at full strength that Mills can start playing on a more consistent basis. If he does, it will only make the Silver and Black much more dangerous in the long run.

  • Up next: 

The Spurs are now 22-10 on the season and will return to the court on Thursday night when they continue their road trip in Utah against the Jazz at 9:30 p.m.

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