Sat, Nov 2 Spurs-Trail Blazers Preview
Moda Center at the Rose Quarter - Portland, Oregon
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD, Associated Press Last Updated: Sat, Nov 2 2:45 ET
No one has fared better against the San Antonio Spurs over the past five years than the Portland Trail Blazers.
LaMarcus Aldridge helped make certain that trend continued last season.
With Tim Duncan's status unclear, Aldridge might be able to feast on a short-handed frontcourt Saturday night when the Blazers try to continue their success against the unbeaten Spurs in their home opener.
Portland (1-1) split its first two games on the road, losing 104-91 at Phoenix in Wednesday's opener before regrouping to roll past Denver 113-98 on Friday.
Aldridge poured in nine of his game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter as the Blazers snapped the Nuggets' 23-game regular-season home win streak.
''It's good to have a guy like that who can make those plays and guys can play off of him,'' said coach Terry Stotts, whose club also snapped a nine-game slide at Pepsi Center.
After totaling 53 points on 24-of-48 shooting in his first two games, Aldridge will try to help Portland win its fifth straight home opener. The two-time All-Star has been difficult to stop in this matchup, averaging 25.7 points on 56.7 percent shooting to help the Blazers take two of three from the Spurs (2-0) last season.
This time, he could be facing a San Antonio team without Duncan. The 14-time All-Star left Wednesday's 101-94 win over Memphis in the third quarter after receiving an inadvertent elbow to the chest from Tony Allen.
If he can't go, Boris Diaw is expected to get another start after finishing with 14 points and hitting a big 3-pointer with 1:50 remaining in Friday's 91-85 win at the Los Angeles Lakers. Diaw also had 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting after Duncan went down in the opener.
On Friday, Tony Parker led the way with 24 points on 12-of-18 shooting and Manu Ginobili added 20. Kawhi Leonard had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs, who clawed back from an early 15-point deficit.
"We only know how to play one way, and that's what we do,'' coach Gregg Popovich said. ''We didn't do anything different. We just ran what we always run, whether (Duncan) is there or not. If Tony was out or Manu was out, we run our same stuff.''
Parker has played in only three of the past seven meetings with the Blazers, averaging 18.0 points while helping the Spurs win two of those three contests.
Now he'll try to help San Antonio end its slump against Portland and start 3-0 for the second straight season.
The Blazers, however, are one of two teams with a winning record against the Spurs during the regular season since 2008-09. They've won 12 of 17 meetings over that span, while Miami owns a less-impressive 5-4 record.
Portland has been particularly dominant at home in this series, winning eight of nine by an average of 10.5 points.
Parker could have his hands full with reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard, who has 50 points and made 9-of-16 from 3-point range in the first two games.
Lillard averaged 28.0 points on 53.4 percent shooting and 7.0 assists in last year's season series with San Antonio.
The Spurs have limited opponents to 89.5 points per game on 39.4 percent shooting in their two wins.