Bates-Diop leads Spurs past Blazers in inaugural Austin game

Portland Trail Blazers forward Kevin Knox II (11) drives to the basket against San Antonio...
Portland Trail Blazers forward Kevin Knox II (11) drives to the basket against San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Austin, Texas, Thursday, April 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)(Eric Gay | AP)
Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 8:08 PM PDT
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Keita Bates-Diop had 25 points, Julian Champagnie and Keldon Johnson added 24 points each and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Portland Trail Blazers 129-127 on Thursday night in the first NBA game in Texas’ capital city.

Tre Jones had 18 points and 10 assists for San Antonio, which is guaranteed to finish with one of the NBA’s three-worst records.

Kevin Knox had 24 points to lead Portland and Drew Eubanks added 23 points against his former team. The Trail Blazers have lost seven of eight.

San Antonio erased a seven-point deficit in the final five minutes, hitting three straight 3-pointers in taking a 123-119 lead with 3:09 remaining.

The Spurs are playing their final two home games at the Moody Center in Austin as part of what the franchise has deemed a regional outreach.

Portland was without Damian Lillard, Jerami Grant, Jusuf Nurkic and Anfernee Simons while San Antonio did not have Jeremy Sochan and Devin Vassell.

While the game lacked star power, it did not lack enthusiasm. A sellout crowd roared in appreciation for every Spurs basket, especially when Jones hit a 3-pointer followed by consecutive 3s by Bates-Diop to give the Spurs a lead in the final three minutes.

San Antonio finished 10 for 35 on 3-pointers.


Trail Blazers: Lillard (right calf), Nurkic (right knee) and Simmons (right foot) all sat out due to soreness. Grant had a bruised left quadriceps.

Spurs: Coach Gregg Popovich would prefer having Sochan and Vassell in the lineup, “but at this point of the year, with their injuries, it doesn’t make any sense.” ... San Antonio honored former Longhorns point guard T.J. Ford following the first quarter. Ford played nine seasons in the NBA, closing out his career in 2012 with the Spurs.


Trail Blazers: At Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.

Spurs: Host Minnesota in Austin on Saturday.