Down 19, Blazers surge past Spurs

BY foxsports • April 9, 2009

Um, Brandon, it's 19-21 - but for the young Portland Trail Blazers, they can brag about this one.

Roy scored 26 points and Portland won in San Antonio for the first time since 2002 with a 95-83 victory, moving the Trail Blazers into a three-way tie with the Spurs and Houston for the third-best record in the West with just four games remaining.

Stuck among the bottom seeds in the playoff hunt for weeks, Portland has won six of seven to emerge as a serious contender for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs - where the Trail Blazers haven't been since 2003.

"We won at one of the toughest teams in the league, in April, and they needed a win," Roy said. "So we got to use it if we want it to be something special."

The slumping Spurs, who have lost four of six, blew a 19-point lead in the first half and surrendered the season series to Portland 3-1. Roger Mason had 18 points as the Spurs lost for the first time since learning this week that Manu Ginobili will miss the playoffs because of an ankle injury.

Tim Duncan, bothered by aching knees since the All-Star break, scored four points in 24 minutes in his first back-to-back stint in nearly six weeks. He was put back in the game with 7:40 left with the Spurs down by seven, then was pulled after he appeared stiff while awkwardly reaching for a loose ball seconds later.

The Spurs had been holding out Duncan in back-to-backs since March, trying to keep the two-time MVP fresh for a postseason that figures to be even tougher now without Ginobili.

"I didn't like the way he (Duncan) moved on a loose ball, so I just pulled him," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He went tonight because he felt good. When I thought he didn't, that's when I decided to pull him."

Tony Parker, who scored 17 points, acknowledged the Spurs were up against a team "younger and more athletic than us." Parker said Popovich didn't want Duncan to play in the back-to-back at first.

"People don't realize Timmy's been playing on one leg for like a month and a half," Parker said. "We can't pay attention to that. We just have to take a challenge and play harder. In the playoff there is no back-to-back, so that's good for us."

The Spurs are in danger of letting home-court advantage in the first round slip away after holding the second-best record in the West for most of the season. San Antonio, which has another big West showdown Friday against Utah.

Portland, meanwhile, is surging. One night after struggling early at Memphis, the Trail Blazers again came out flat in falling behind by 19 before storming back to wrap up a four-game road swing at 3-1. They also won in San Antonio for the first time in 12 tries.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 20 points, and Joe Przybilla had 17 rebounds. It was the 50th win for Portland, a mark the Trail Blazers haven't reached since 2002-03.

"Getting 50 games, that's a big goal," said Greg Oden, who had eight points and eight rebounds. "We just want to keep on winning, trying to get home court for the playoffs." The Trail Blazers did it by slowly erasing a huge first-quarter deficit that had the game taking on the early look of a blowout.

Hitting 70 percent of its first-quarter shots, San Antonio jumped to a 39-20 lead before the Trail Blazers began slowly inching back. Portland ended the first half on a 25-8 run, punctuated by Steve Blake's half-court heave at the buzzer that swished in and closed cut it to 49-47.

A free throw by Roy with 3:35 left in the third gave Portland its first lead since the opening minutes. Aldridge hit a running finger roll the next time down to push the lead to three and led the rest of the way.

"It looked like we wanted this game," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "We played hard and we got it."

Notes: The Spurs are 18-16 without Ginobili in the lineup this season and 32-12 with him. ... The Spurs promoted G Marcus Williams from their D-League team in Austin and waived Malik Hairston before the game. Williams, a former Arizona standout, averaged a triple-double in three games last week for the Toros. ... Former Spurs great David Robinson watched his first game courtside since being elected to the Hall of Fame this week. The crowd treated him to an extended standing ovation.

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