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Spurs win 10th straight, vault to top of West

4/10/2003

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Neither Tim Duncan nor Rasheed Wallace had
much of a game on offense in Wednesday night's matchup between
Portland and San Antonio. That was because both played so well
against each other on defense.

Duncan's teammates, however, outperformed Wallace's, enabling
the Spurs to cling to a 84-79 win in the face of a strong
second-half comeback by the Trail Blazers.

The victory was San Antonio's 10th straight, and ensured the
Spurs (58-20) would retain the best record in the league. They
moved one game ahead of Dallas atop the Midwest Division after the
Mavericks lost at Phoenix.

Stephen Jackson made a pair of free throws and Tony Parker added
one in the game's waning monents to clinch the win for the Spurs,
who saw a 15-point advantage in the first half shrink to two by the
final minute.

Duncan, defended physically by Wallace for most of the night,
had trouble getting close to his comfort zone near the basket. He
was just 3-for-14 shots for 11 points, less than half his season
average.

"It's good to be able to have a game like this tonight and the
team still find a way to win,'' Duncan said.

Wallace, averaging nearly 19 points, was held to eight on
4-for-16 shooting.

"They both canceled each other out,'' said Portland guard Bonzi
Wells. "Rasheed guarding Tim, Tim guarding Rasheed. That's just
two big guys having a big game (on defense).''

The Trail Blazers, trailing by 12 at the half, trimmed San
Antonio's lead to 81-79 on two free throws by Wells with 1:28 left.
But Portland's rally stalled as the team missed its final three
shots.

Manu Ginobili's 17 points off the bench led six Spurs in double
figures. Parker added 15 and Bruce Bowen 13, all in the first half.
Duncan led all rebounders with 11.

Ginobili also had two key offensive rebounds in the final 1:04
to help the Spurs run time off the clock. He passed the second
rebound to Jackson, who was fouled by Derek Anderson with 10.6
seconds left and made both.

"I don't play 40 minutes like Tim and Tony -- I'm fresh,'' said
Ginobili. "The best thing I can give the Spurs is energy.''

Anderson paced Portland with 20 points, while Wells and Damon
Stoudamire each had 12.

Portland cut its deficit to six points by the end of the third
period behind three baskets by Wells and a pair of 3-pointers from
Anderson. At the other end, the Spurs managed only 10 points in as
many minutes.

"We did a much better job on the defensive end ... in the
second half,'' said Portland coach Maurice Cheeks. "However, they
showed why they were the best team tonight, coming out there and
making plays.''

Both teams started out with cold shooting, making only six of
their first 25 shots combined.

Jackson stole the ball from Wells and fed Malik Rose for a dunk
to pull the Spurs into a 11-11 tie, and a drive by Ginobili on the
next possession put San Antonio ahead to stay.

Bowen made three of his four 3-point attempts in the half for 13
points, helping the Spurs maintain a double-digit lead through most
of the second quarter.

Parker went 5-for-7 from the floor in the first two quarters and
Ginobili was 4-for-6, including a pair of 3-pointers. The Trail
Blazers struggled against San Antonio's tight defense, making only
three baskets in the first six minutes of the second period.

Game notes
Of the Spurs' 25 victories since the All-Star break, 17
have been against playoff-bound teams. ... Bowen has gone 19-for-32
(59.4 percent) on 3-pointers in the last 10 games. He has shot 35.7
percent on free throws (5-for-14) over the same span. ... Cheeks, a
former Spurs player, needs three victories in the final four games
to reach 100 wins in two seasons with the Trail Blazers. ... The
Blazers' 13 points in the first quarter matched their season low.

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