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After dropping two straight, the Blazers came into tonight ready to play. The sting of two losses was the all the motivation Portland needed to…

Nah, just kidding. Tonight was LaMarcus Aldridge’s first game back in the Moda Center since bolting for San Antonio. The Blazers were fired up to go against the second-best Blazer of the past ten years (I see you, Brandon!), and emotions were going to be high even though half of the roster wasn’t even here last season.

Whatever your opinion on his departure—I have settled somewhere between ambivalence and serious ambivalence—the home crowd made their feelings well known. Anytime LaMarcus had a hand on the ball, the boo birds came out in full force. At some point late in the fourth a fan held up a sign thanking LA for his nine years and the arena erupted in jeers.

So yeah, that’s where things apparently stand. Dude said he wanted to be the greatest Blazer ever. He will have to settle for getting booed relentlessly until his game deteriorates into irrelevance and he is finally welcomed home, aka the Vince Carter Rule. What makes it worse is you know Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez will get a hero’s welcome when they make it back into town.

Sorry, LA. The wound is apparently still too fresh. But hey, at least your team won tonight.

The game went about as you would expect a game against the Spurs to go. They moved the ball. They got open looks. They converted on said open looks. The plucky Blazers never really had a chance, not with CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard being the only players able to create their own shot. The Spurs have Kawhi Freaking Leonard guarding the perimeter. Good luck and godspeed, Blazers, but trying to dribble around Kawhi is like trying to dodge a bullet. A large-handed bullet with cornrows.

So while McCollum and Lillard picked their spots and did their best to carry the load once again, the Spurs defense was locked in on them. Kawhi alternated between the two, and not-coincidentally both players went through serious dry spells. CJ was hot early and late. Dame controlled the middle.

But two players does not a team make. Miles Plumlee showed some flashes, Al-Farouq Aminu continued his habit of dribbling into infinity, and Ed Davis cleaned up the boards with a workmanlike approach, but in the end it wasn’t enough and the Blazers fell 113-101.

Gerald Henderson made his season debut and, after shaking off the rust with an air ball that missed by a foot, contributed nicely in the second half. He is a mid-range machine. If you like watching someone pass up an open three, take a dribble inside the line, and jack a twenty-footer, Gerald is your man. (/cut to Daryl Morey weeping.)

Aldridge, for his part, had a typical Aldridge game. No flash, no nothing. Just a barrage of mid-range jumpers when his team needed them. With Portland threatening to make a run in the third, the Spurs went to him again and again and he just kept hitting. Stupid jerk and his stupid consistency, putting up a 23/6 without even breaking a sweat.

To add injury to insult, Meyers Leonard went down in the third with a dislocated shoulder. On a made free throw, because of course. He got tangled with Kawhi as they both went to box out, and pop. Leave it to Meyers to get injured on such an innocuous play. And here I thought the mustache was indestructible.

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Dame had his own injury to deal with, as he lost part of the thumbnail on his shooting hand early in the game. Apparently it got bent back first, then got hit again soon after and all but ripped off. Dame finished the job and pulled the bloody nail off, wrapped it up, and played with four fingers like some sort of cartoon for the rest of the night. So, yeah, not great. How does a dislocated shoulder somehow sound less painful than losing a fingernail?

There’s not too much to take away from this game. The Spurs are, were, and will be the better team, even if Aldridge decided to swap jerseys at halftime. The Blazers are going to go through some losing spells, and with four upcoming road games, things might get worse before they get better.

It wasn’t quite the emotional homecoming I’m sure Aldridge was expecting. Just another cog in the Spurs machine, another boring win for one of the league’s best teams. The Blazers may have lost, but Tim Duncan missed a bank shot so bad that it hit the side of the backboard and you gotta take the tiny victories when they come.