Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/14/12
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Rookie point guard Damian Lillard outdueled All-Star Tony Parker, and the Portland Trail Blazers held off a late San Antonio Spurs surge to win 98-90 Thursday night at the Rose Garden. Lillard collected season highs in points (29) and rebounds (seven), and he had six assists. The 6-foot-3 Weber State product shot 11-for-22 from the field and 5-for-5 from the free-throw line. He committed only two turnovers in 40 minutes. Parker led San Antonio with 21 points, making seven of 15 shots from the field and seven of seven from the line. He had five assists with four turnovers in 37 minutes. "I knew it was going to be a tough cover for me," Lillard said. "I wanted to attack the game offensively, and defensively try to make it as tough as possible for him to get his shot off and make those floaters." The rookie impressed veteran Spurs coach Greg Popovich. "He's a wonderful player. His skills are obvious, but I like his demeanor as much as I like his skills," Popvich said.. "He's aggressive, he's not afraid of contact ... and he has an understanding of what's going on out on the court. He can shoot it and he can drive it, and he works hard on D. We started to blitz him in the fourth quarter because we weren't handling him very well. He was smart enough to get rid of (the ball), get it to the first open man and play with his teammates. That's a sign of an intelligent player." The Trail Blazers (10-12) handed the Spurs (18-6) their second loss in as many nights. San Antonio fell 99-96 to the Jazz at Utah on Wednesday. LaMarcus Aldridge contributed 22 points and six rebounds for the Blazers, who defeated the Spurs for the eighth time in the teams' past nine meetings in Portland. "Beating a team like San Antonio -- the best team in the West, maybe the best team in the league -- it was probably our best win this season because we played an entire game," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "We didn't have to come back. We were steady and played well throughout." It was a back-and-forth struggle until Portland used an 11-2 surge to go in front 72-61 late in the third quarter. The lead was 83-71 with 10 minutes left, but the Spurs went on a 10-2 run to get within 85-81 with five minutes to play. San Antonio's Danny Green's hit a 3-pointer cut the margin to 91-88, but Lillard scored on a twisting layup to put Portland in front 93-88. The Spurs -- playing for the fifth time in seven days -- were never able to get closer than three the rest of the way. "We just came up short," San Popovich said. "I was really proud of (the Spurs') effort considering the circumstances. They busted their butts to try and stay in the game, but there was just not enough fuel in the tank." Many of the Spurs' 19 turnovers were unforced. "You can call it fatigue or whatever it may be ... we just couldn't find any rhythm," said San Antonio center Tim Duncan, who had 16 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes. "Give credit to (the Blazers). They made shots when they needed to and kept us at bay." NOTES: Lillard had 24 points, five rebounds and five assists through three quarters. ... Portland guard Wesley Matthews (hip) missed his second consecutive game after having played in 250 straight contests to begin his NBA career. ... San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard (knee) and guard Stephen Jackson (broken finger) did not play. Leonard is game-to-game, and Jackson is expected to be out another 10 days or so. ... ... During his pregame meeting with the media, the first question asked of Gregg Popovich was, "Are you using your regular lineup tonight?" The San Antonio coach responded, with a grin, "I wonder why he'd ask a question like that?" The Spurs were fined $250,000 after Popovich sat four of his top players -- including Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili -- in a 105-100 loss at Miami on Nov. 29. Last season, the veteran coach did likewise in a 137-97 loss at Portland. Duncan, Parker and Ginobili were all ready to go Thursday, Popovich said. ... The Spurs were on the final stop of a four-game road trip.
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