- Associated Press - Saturday, December 24, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The San Antonio Spurs were determined not to make the second of a back-to-back turn into two straight losses.

Coming off a loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles the night before, the Spurs dominated the Portland Trail Blazers 110-90 on Friday night despite resting key players.

“We wanted to get one back,” said Kawhi Leonard, who led San Antonio with 33 points. “We definitely didn’t want to lose two games in a row.”

Patty Mills added a season-high 23 points off the bench for the Spurs, who led by as many as 21 points in the second half. Former Blazer LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points and 14 rebounds.

Damian Lillard had 16 points and 10 assists for his seventh double-double of the season for the slumping Blazers, who have lost five straight and nine of their last 10 games.

The loss may have been costly. Lillard rolled his left ankle midway through the fourth quarter and afterward coach Terry Stotts said it was sprained. X-rays were planned later Friday night.

“I know I rolled it good. I went back in the game because I wanted to test it, and it hurt,” Lillard said. “Went out there for a few possessions and it didn’t make sense to even be out there.”

Lillard was asked how long he might be sidelined.

“I don’t know how well y’all know me, but I don’t plan on sitting out,” he said, vowing to do everything possible to get back in time for Monday’s game against the Raptors.

The Spurs rested Pau Gasol, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Coach Gregg Popovich said the night off was necessary because the Spurs “play four games in 5½ days.”

“The guys that have a little age on them, there’s no way they can play that many games,” Popovich said. The trio has 44 years combined in the NBA.

The Spurs, who had their five-game winning streak snapped Thursday, have won nine of 11.

Replacing Parker and Gasol in the starting lineup were DeWayne Dedmon and rookie Dejounte Murray.

It was Aldridge’s second trip back to the Moda Center with San Antonio. Aldridge played for the Blazers for the first nine seasons of his career before heading to the Spurs in 2015 as a free agent.

Some fans apparently hadn’t gotten over his departure, and booed him at introductions and when he had the ball.

Portland was without Evan Turner, who missed his third straight game with a sore ankle.

Aldridge’s turnaround hook gave the Spurs a 43-33 lead midway thought the second quarter. The Spurs pushed the lead to 52-40 on Jonathan Simmons’ basket and went into the break ahead 57-45.

Lillard struggled in the first half, making just two of eight shots from the floor with five points, but he had six assists.

Mills’ 3-pointer pushed San Antonio’s lead to 83-66 in the third quarter, and Leonard’s fast-break layup made it 96-78 with 7:15 left.

“I thought we were excellent. It was one of our better defensive performances and I thought we played with great intensity,” Popovich said.


Spurs: The Spurs are one of 10 NBA teams playing on Christmas Day this year. San Antonio will host the Chicago Bulls. Popovich was asked before the game what he thought of the holiday tradition. “They’re pretty exciting, actually. Sure, I’d rather spend it with my family, but the fans love it,” he said. … It was the eighth time this season that Leonard has scored more than 30 points.

Trail Blazers: Lillard made a three-quarter court basket at the half just after the buzzer as the teams left the court. … Meyers Leonard had a season-high 16 points off the bench. … Portland has lost four straight to the Spurs.


“After last year it kind of got to me, but this year I kind of embraced it and kind of had fun with it,” Aldridge said, adding that the boos get him going.

And it doesn’t taint his love for Portland.

“I feel like this is always going to be a special place for me,” he said.


Spurs: The Spurs host the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day.

Trail Blazers: The Blazers host the Toronto Raptors on Monday.

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