By RAUL DOMINGUEZ Associated Press
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — CJ McCollum scored 32 points and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the San Antonio Spurs 121-116 on Saturday night to spoil Tim Duncan’s first shot at coaching following Gregg Popovich’s ejection.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 30 points and 13 rebounds but the Spurs lost their fifth straight and fell to 5-8.
Damian Lillard added 22 points and Hassan Whiteside had 21 points for Portland (5-8), which snapped a four-game skid in San Antonio.
Before the game, Popovich said coaching could only go so far and it was up to each player to take responsibility for his own mistakes and performance during this losing streak. Popovich put that responsibility squarely on the the Spurs when he was ejected early in the third quarter.
Popovich was ejected after walking onto the court to berate official Jason Goldenberg over a non-call. Popovich calmly walked off the court following his first ejection of the season.
The Spurs responded with Duncan and fellow assistants Becky Hammon and Will Hardy coaching by committee, but it was Duncan calling the plays and screaming out instruction.
San Antonio rallied to take a 111-104 lead with 4 minutes remaining but couldn’t hold on. Portland took a 114-111 lead on Rodney Hood’s three-point play on a left-handed hook and foul on DeMar DeRozan.
After trailing by 23 points in the opening minute of the second quarter, the Spurs went on a 34-15 run capped by Aldridge’s sixth 3-pointer. Aldridge had 10 3-pointers last season.
The Spurs stormed to a 96-90 lead late in the third quarter behind a series of energy plays that drew thunderous cheers from the previously restrained crowd.
Rudy Gay sparked the rally by blocking Lillard’s shot, which keyed a fast break that Aldridge completed with a dunk follow of DeRozan’s missed layup. Patty Mills then stole the inbounds pass from Whiteside and tossed in a layup ahead of two bewildered Blazers who didn’t see the steal. Mills’ layup put the Spurs up 92-88 with 3 minutes remaining in the third.
Bryn Forbes added 17 points and DeRozan and Gay added 16 apiece.
Trail Blazers: Portland’s bench had 25 points led by eight peach by Mario Hezonja and Kent Bazemore. … The Blazers lost 113-110 in San Antonio on Oct. 28 when Lillard’s 3-pointer at the buzzer rattled out of the rim.
Spurs: The Spurs entered the season with a losing record for only 65 days since 1998. … Aldridge’s career high for 3-pointers is 37 set in 2015 and his highest percentage is 41% set in 2017.
Trail Blazers: At Houston on Monday night.
Spurs: At Dallas on Monday night.