The Portland Trail Blazers fell to 42-23 on the season, 18-15 on the road and 0-4 on their current five-game road trip with a 103-90 loss to the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday night at the AT&T Center.
Aldridge writhed on the floor in obvious pain before finally being helped off the court by teammates Thomas Robinson and Meyers Leonard and was reluctant to put any weight on his right leg. Replays showed the three-time All-Star landing hard on his tailbone, though the team later described the injury as a “back contusion.”
“When a guy takes a a tough fall like that, when you’re airborne, you just don’t know what can happen you land,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “The longer he stayed down, you just don’t know.”
Aldridge did not return to the game, finishing the night with 13 points on 6 of 11 shooting and four rebounds. X-rays on his back came back negative, though his status for Friday night’s contest in New Orleans against the Pelicans is not yet know.
“It looked really painful,” said Damian Lillard. “I watched him go up for the shot and fall straight out of the air. That’s a tough fall. I was concerned about his well-being more than anything else once I saw his facial expressions and that he kind of stayed down. I never saw him stay down like that, so obviously I was concerned for him.”
If there’s any good news, aside from x-rays coming back negative, it’s that the Trail Blazers recently went 4-1 while Aldridge was sidelined with a left groin strain.
“We’re going to fight,” said Wesley Matthews, who finished with 13 points, four rebounds and four assists in 36 minutes. “Unfortunately we played a few games without (Aldridge), so we’re accustomed to that kind of style of play. We’re going to fight every game, we’re going to compete. Now it’s just time for us to make our own luck. Get the 50/50 balls, turn these games around, stop waiting for it to happen and just go make it happen like we were doing earlier in the year.”
Immediately following the injury, Portland went on an 11-5 run to cut San Antonio’s lead to six with 5:36 to play in the third quarter. The Spurs pushed the lead back to nine by the end of the third, though enter the fourth down single digits had to feel like a victory after Portland trailed by as many as 16 in the quarter.
But back-to-back three-pointers by Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli to start the fourth put the home team back up 15 and dealt a crippling blow to Portland’s prospects of a comeback.
“I think we played hard all the time, we played small,” said Stotts. “There were a couple points in the half that I thought we were kind of back in it. Then San Antonio at the beginning of the fourth hits two threes right when we’re in the thick of things. The guys that were out there were playing hard, looking for opportunities, but it was tough to get over the hump.”
With Aldridge out, Portland was led by the play of Lillard, who finished with 23 points on 9 of 22 shooting. Lillard has now scored at least 20 points in every game he’s played against San Antonio in his career. He also added five rebounds and three assists in the loss, which was Portland’s fourth in a row.
“I would say it’s the most adversity that we’ve had to go against
as a team (this season),” said Lillard. “With losing LA and Mo (Williams) being out tonight, four losses in a row for the first time. It’s a really tough stretch. I think the type of year that we’ve turned this into, with us being 42-23, I think we’ve kind of give ourselves some room for error or some room for a time like this where we lose four games in a row unexpected. It’s time for us to turn it around. We’ve got to stick with it and as players, we can’t be the ones that are overly concerned about losing a game. We’ve played against really good teams, our rhythm has been kind of off, so that makes everything harder when you’re playing against good teams closing in on the playoffs. End of the season and teams are fighting for their playoffs lives.”
Nicolas Batum added a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds and Dorell Wright, who started five games when Aldridge was injured, added 10 points and six rebounds off the bench.
San Antonio held Portland to 39 percent shooting from the field and 19 percent shooting from three. The Trail Blazers are shooting 41 percent from the field and 30 percent from three during their four-game losing streak.
“We could probably execute better, we could probably finish better, probably set better screens,” said Stotts. “Give credit to the defense, San Antonio is a good defensive team. We didn’t get a lot of easy baskets.”
The Spurs had six players score in double figures led by former Trail Blazers guard Patty Mills, who finished with 15 points in 17 minutes off the bench.
The Trail Blazers will have one last chance to get a win on the trip Friday night in New Orleans, though it’s very possible they’ll have to do so without their best player.
“We knew this trip was going to be tough,” said Stotts. “We lost a couple close ones, but this is a league of adversity. Every team goes through it at some point and it’s how you come through it that matters.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 5 PM.