Damian Lillard missed two would-be tying threes to close the game out, after bringing his Portland Trail Blazers to the brink of a comeback against the Spurs.
DeMar DeRozan scored 27 but missed two free throws that would have made it four or five, and before that missed a fadeaway free throw line jumper that would have extended the lead.
Lillard has a reputation as a closer, a finisher, and a guy that hits big shots in big moments. That is true, and what is also very true is that he has missed some big ones as well. If those are not as prominent in your brain as the big ones he made, that is because big shots have a tendency to stick in the mind a bit more.
We remember Kawhi hitting the fadeaway jumper against Philly in the playoffs last year and almost have completely forgotten he missed some huge free throws in the 2013 Finals vs the Heat.
DeRozan has yet to have a big shot moment like that — it is certainly possible he never will have half as many as Lillard has had in his career.
What is great is that DDR is still shooting the shots. He is the closer and like Dame, he will miss some and he will make some like he did against the Wizards.
DeMar had 27, all of that through the early 4th quarter before the Spurs’ reserves started blowing the lead. He came in a little cold after that. No excuses, but that was a thing.
Missing Dejounte in the 4th quarter will be tough, as the Spurs allowed 39 in this final period, and it cannot imagine that would have been quite so easy with Murray harassing Dame a bit more.
The Spurs held a 15 point lead after Murray assisted Marco for a three and the Blazers were on the verge of pulling everyone and packing it up with about seven minutes to go. It is easy to get upset with the failure to close it out there, but this was a weird game. The Spurs were down big early, and got all the way back.
The Blazers were on the second night of a back-to-back (SEGABABA) and that means we can probably do some self-loathing — how could they allow this team to come back etc. The truth is that ugly wins are better than pretty losses and the Spurs are 3-0, with a good offense and a brilliant defender playing 20min a night and getting a little healthier with each game.