PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland was dealt a tough blow in what should have been a straightforward win against short-handed San Antonio.
Starting center Robin Lopez broke his right hand in the third quarter and will be out for “a while,” coach Terry Stotts said after the Blazers defeated the Spurs 108-95 on Monday night.
Lopez has not missed a game for the Blazers since coming to the team in the summer of 2013. He gave Portland some badly needed stability at the position.
“It’s a little frustrating,” said Lopez, who said there was perhaps two breaks in his hand, and that it would be reevaluated on Tuesday. “I’ve been pretty fortunate with injuries in my career.”
Portland will likely start Chris Kaman, who has been Lopez’s backup this season after signing with the Blazers as a free agent this summer.
“He’s a big part of this offense and this team and our identity,” LaMarcus Aldridge said about Lopez. “He does so many things that people don’t notice. He’s a hard worker, the guy that does all the things that nobody else really does in the first unit. So it’s going to be tough.”
Aldridge had 23 points and 14 rebounds for his 13th double-double this season. Damian Lillard also had 23 points and a career-high 10 rebounds for Portland, which has won seven of nine.
Kawhi Leonard had 21 points and nine rebounds for the Spurs, who had just 10 players available. Tim Duncan, who had 15 points and nine rebounds in a 99-91 victory the night before, was given the night off.
In addition to Duncan, the Spurs were also missing a number of players because of injuries. Manu Ginobili was out with a lower back bruise, while Tony Parker missed a second straight game because of a strained left hamstring.
Tiago Splitter was still rehabbing a high calf injury, and Patty Mills continues to recover after offseason right shoulder surgery.
The only two regular starters who played against the Blazers were Leonard and Danny Green. But Leonard gingerly held his left hand late in the game — the same hand that forced him to miss a pair of games earlier this month. Afterward Leonard said he was fine.
“We just wanted to go out there and compete, that’s the only thing we could do,” said Kyle Anderson, who had a career-high 15 points off the bench. “We don’t want to feel sorry for ourselves because we’re short-handed or whatever, we’re going out there to try to win the game, compete, do the things we normally do. If we fall short we could all look in the mirror and say we competed.”
The Blazers faced the Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals last season, with San Antonio taking the series 4-1 on the way to the NBA championship. It was the first time Portland had advanced beyond the first round since 2000.
The Blazers held an edge on the Spurs for most of the first half, but began to pull away when Lillard’s layup put Portland ahead 33-26. The Spurs closed the gap to 37-36 after Green’s basket.
Portland never let the Spurs any closer and led 48-43 at the half.
Lopez left in the third quarter after it appeared he hit his hand hard on Boris Diaw’s head, but Lopez wasn’t quite sure when — or how — the injury happened.
Steve Blake his a 19-foot jumper that gave the Blazers an 80-70 lead early in the fourth quarter. Lillard extended it to 89-77 with a 3-pointer.
Spurs: The absence of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili doesn’t necessarily doom the Spurs. … Earlier this month the “Big 3” sat out against the New York Knicks and San Antonio won 109-95 on the road.
Blazers: Aldridge was honored before the game for passing Terry Porter for second on the Blazers’ franchise scoring list. Team owner Paul Allen was on hand for the pregame ceremony. … Aldridge has 13 double-doubles this season.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Blazers are 11-2 at the Moda Center this season, tied with Memphis for the most wins at home among Western Conference teams.
MAKING A MARK
Lillard became first NBA player with 500 or more points, 150 or more assists, 125 or more rebounds and 60 or more 3-pointers in the season’s first 25 games since Gary Payton (1999-00).
The Spurs host the Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
The Blazers host the Bucks on Wednesday night.
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