-----Playing without Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Allen Crabbe, and Jusuf Nurkic the Portland Trail Blazers surprised the San Antonio Spurs 99-98 Monday night at the Moda Center.
This wasn't supposed to happen. The Portland Trail Blazers playing without their stars were supposed to go out and get hammered by the Spurs as a 10.5 point underdogs in front of the home crowd at the Moda Center. In a surprise, the Blazers played one of their most inspiring games of the season.
Noah Vonleh scored a layup on a broken play as time expired to give the Blazers a 99-98 win over the Spurs on Monday night. Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Maurice Harkless, and Allen Crabbe all rested as Head Coach Terry Stotts elected to give his starters some rest after clinching a playoff spot with the Thunder's win over the Nuggets on Sunday.
Spurs Coach Greg Popovich played his starters for the first three quarters before giving way to the bench in the fourth. The Spurs are locked in behind the Golden State Warriors as the second seed in the Western Conference.
The Blazers stormed out of the gates tonight building a 20-13 lead with 5:31 to play in the first quarter. Energized by Shabazz Napier and Meyers Leonard, the Blazers scored 31 points in the quarter and connected on 7-for-11 from three point range. Leonard and Napier combined for 21 of the Blazers 31 points in the period.
The second quarter was a struggle for both teams. The Spurs and Blazers combined for just 31 points as the Blazers took a 47-43 into halftime.
Greg Popovich leaned on his starters in the third quarter and it paid dividends for the Spurs. Kawhi Leonard scored 9 points as the Spurs outscored the Blazers 33-24 in the quarter to take a 76-71 lead into the fourth.
The young Blazers showed some toughness in the final period. Trailing 79-73 with 8:56 remaining, the Blazers went on a 10-2 run to take an 83-81 lead. The Blazers also faced a five-point deficit at 96-91 with 1:24 remaining in the game, but they found a way to battle back with hustle on both ends of the floor putting them in a position to win the game on their final possession.
Portland (41-40) got 32 points from Shabazz Napier,16 points from Evan Turner, and 15 points from Pat Connaughton. The Blazers will finish up their season on Wednesday night at the Moda Center against the New Orleans Pelicans. They will start their first round series against the Golden State Warriors this weekend. The official schedule for the playoffs will be announced on Wednesday night.
Chad's Take- Tonight was one of the most entertaining games of the season and it didn't involve Lillard, McCollum, or Nurkic. The Blazers led by Shabazz Napier, Meyers Leonard, and Noah Vonleh found a way to beat the Spurs with great energy, hustle, and team ball. This win was a victory for team-basketball. An inspired performance that the fans can be happy with.