The Portland Trail Blazers got a little payback while extending their stay in Las Vegas by defeating the San Antonio Spurs 94-87 in the quarterfinals of the Summer League tournament Saturday afternoon at Thomas & Mack Arena on the campus of UNLV.
With the win, the Trail Blazers move on to the semifinals of the summer league tournament where they will face the winner of Grizzlies vs. Heat Sunday afternoon. Portland is 4-2 in summer league play.
The Trail Blazers entered Saturday’s quarterfinal having already lost to the Spurs 99-85 in preliminary play, with that initial meeting being a close affair through most of the first half before San Antonio pulled away for the easy victory. But this time the Trail Blazers, winning of their last three games, would be the team to take over in the second half.
Portland looked like they might pull away in the third after a Jake Layman jumper put the Trail Blazers up 57-45 with 6:58 left to play in the quarter. But the Spurs would go on a 20-8 run to end the quarter while hold the Trail Blazers scoreless for the final two minutes of the third to tie the game at 65-65 and wrestle the momentum going into the fourth.
But Jake Layman would wrestle control of the game back for Portland. Despite generally struggling from the field in six games in Las Vegas, the 6-9 forward out of Maryland scored 11 points between the 8:04 and 4:46 marks of the fourth quarter to give the Trail Blazers an 84-74 lead and control of the quarterfinal.
“I’m staying aggressive,” said Layman, who scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half. “The coaches told me at halftime that ‘We know you’re not shooting well but stay aggressive,’ and that’s what I did.”
As did his teammates. The Spurs would cut the lead to six with just over four minutes to play, but Jarnell Stokes and R.J. Hunter would both hit three-pointers while Caleb Swanigan cleaned up the glass late in the game to punch Portland’s ticket to the semifinals.
“They’re a competitive bunch,” said assistant coach Jim Moran, who is Portland’s acting head coach for Summer League. “Having Zach (Collins) and Pat (Connaughton) out has freed up minutes and guys are out here wanting to play and showcase what they can do, whether it be for the NBA or international scouts. They’ve really seized the opportunity and maximized the minutes they’ve been getting.”
Layman finished with seven rebounds, two steals an assist and a block in 27 minutes to go along with his 23 points.
Swanigan finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and three assists in 32 minutes. Even though he came up one rebound short Saturday afternoon, the 6-9 forward out of Purdue is still on pace to join Blake Griffin, Kevin Love and Marreese Speights as the only players to ever average a double-double at summer league.
Hunter went 4-of-11 from the field and 3-of-8 from three for 16 points, five assists and three rebounds in 23 minutes. Jorge Gutierrez shot 50 percent from the field for 10 points while also tallying four steals, three rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes.
Next up, the Trail Blazers will face the winner of Grizzlies vs. Heat Sunday afternoon at Thomas & Mack Arena in the Las Vegas Summer League semifinals. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 pm on ESPN2.