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Spurs eke out fifth straight win, beat Blazers

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The Rodeo Road Trip is going well for the
San Antonio Spurs so far.

San Antonio has won the first two of the eight-game trip, an
annual event that puts the Spurs on the road when the rodeo comes
to the AT&T Center each February.

Tim Duncan had 14 points and 17 rebounds, and the Spurs won
their fifth straight overall with an 86-82 hard-fought victory over
the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

Manu Ginobili had 22 points and Tony Parker added 20 for the
Spurs, who have won nine of their last 10 games.

"It was hard because they got pumped up by the crowd and they
played aggressive," Ginobili said. "The great thing is we were
able to play through it."

The Spurs stretched their lead to 62-53 in the final quarter,
but the Blazers came back to tie it at 64 on Zach Randolph's layup
with 8:05 left.

Randolph's driving layup with 6:45 to go gave the Blazers a
68-67 lead, but Portland was unable to build on it and Parker's
layup put the Spurs back ahead 73-71.

San Antonio led the rest of the way in a game that featured six
lead changes in the second half, four in the fourth quarter.

"We had ups and downs but we played solid defensively in the
fourth quarter and fought through to get the win," Duncan said.

The defending NBA champion Spurs opened the rodeo trip with a
79-70 victory over Utah on Monday. San Antonio is now 21-4 on the
annual junket since 2003.

Randolph led Portland with 25 points -- 19 in the second half --
and nine rebounds. Ruben Patterson, who clutched at his back
frequently in the final minutes, had 14 points. Patterson said
afterward he thought he pulled a muscle and was going to seek
treatment.

The Blazers were coming off a 116-111 victory over the
SuperSonics, Portland coach Nate McMillan's first visit to Seattle
after spending 19 years there as a player and coach.

Despite the loss, Portland has still won five of its last eight
games.

"We're competing really hard. At the beginning of the year it
seems we were getting blown out a lot," Portland guard Steve Blake
said. "Now we're in every game. We know that we can win every
game. It's just a matter of finishing off strong."

The Spurs led by as many as 10 points in the first half, before
Portland's Travis Outlaw tied it up at 28 on a 3-pointer. Portland
didn't pull ahead, but kept it close to trail 42-39 at the half.

The Blazers took the lead midway through the third quarter when
Randolph's layup made it 51-50. But the Spurs answered with a 12-2
run to go up 62-53 on Sean Marks' 20-foot jumper.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said he believes McMillan's
message is finally getting through to the Blazers. Last month, the
Spurs routed Portland 106-75.

"They don't get down, they just keep plugging away. And that's
huge," Popovich said. "It's a mental toughness. They are figuring
it out."

The Spurs have won 10 of the last 11 meetings with Portland.
^Notes:@ Former Blazers guard Nick Van Exel, now with the Spurs,
missed his second game with a sore left elbow. Robert Horry also
did not play against the Blazers because of an abdominal strain.
... One of the biggest ovations of the night was for Terry Porter,
a former Blazer now with San Antonio's broadcast crew. Porter is
the Trail Blazers' franchise leader in assists (5,319) and
3-pointers (773), and is second in points (11,330), steals (1,182)
and field goals (2,555). He was mentioned in the offseason as a
possible head coach for the Blazers, who eventually hired McMillan.