SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- The San Antonio Spurs won the Southwest
Division for the first time.
After winning the Midwest Division three times in the last four
years, the Spurs won the Southwest in the NBA's first season of
realignment, clinching it with a 95-89 victory over the Portland
Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.
"Great first step," said Ginobili, who scored 40 points in the
double-overtime victory Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers
but didn't play in Sunday's double-overtime win against Golden
"The last three games were huge for us," Ginobili said.
"Three tough games, and we got some wins and at least spot No. 2
(in the Western Conference standings), which is a big advantage."
The Spurs have won five of six games. They are 8-4 without Tim
Duncan, who sprained his right ankle and hasn't played since March
According to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, Duncan has a chance to
return to the lineup Saturday when the Spurs play at home against
But the Spurs will still be without starting center Rasho
Nesterovich, who missed Sunday's game with a sprained ankle. He's
on the injured list and won't be eligible to return until the
Ginobili might miss Wednesday night's game at Utah. Popovich has
hinted he might again rest Ginobili for the second game on
Portland has lost 15 of its last 16 games and 21 of its past 23.
The Trail Blazers are 3-19 under coach Kevin Pritchard who replaced
the fired Maurice Cheeks on March 2.
San Antonio never trailed Portland and went on a 15-2 run over a
5:54 stretch late in the second quarter to lead 48-30 at halftime.
Portland cut San Antonio's lead to seven points with 34 seconds
left in the third quarter but could not get any closer until Joel
Pryzbilla made an uncontested layup with .9 seconds left.
The Spurs broke open a one-point game late in the first quarter
and turned it into an eight-point lead at the end of the quarter
after Portland forward Darius Miles left the game with a sore neck.
Before he left the game, Miles was 4-of-6 from the field and scored
eight points in the previous 3:26.
Miles, who was grabbing at the back of his neck, didn't return
to the game until 6:38 into the third quarter with the Spurs ahead
by 15 points. Miles' free throw with 6:56 left cut San Antonio's
lead to seven.
"Darius did some really good things out there tonight,"
Pritchard said. "I would have liked to play him more the second
half, but I'm not sure his injury would allow him to. There were
times when you would see it in his eyes that he was in pain."
Miles led the Trail Blazers with 18 points in 19 minutes.
The Spurs can tie their franchise-best record (62-20 in
1994-95) if they win their remaining four games. ... Trail Blazers
guard Derek Anderson missed his 10th straight game with a sore
back. ... Spurs guard Tony Parker scored 62 points and had 21
assists in the two previous games, but he scored eight points and
had five assists against the Trail Blazers.