Miller leads Portland past depleted Spurs
by: D. CLARKE EVANS Trail Blazer coach Nate McMillan (right) was able to smile Monday night when he greeted San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. The Blazers pulled out a close road victory over the shorthanded Spurs.

SAN ANTONIO - The Trail Blazers were looking at one of their worst losses of the year, and against the team with the best record in the NBA.

San Antonio - playing without injured starters Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Antonio McDyess - was ahead 80-72 with nine minutes remaining while playing with what amounted to its junior varsity.

Portland composed itself just in time, using a 15-1 run to propel itself to a 100-92 victory Monday night at AT and T Center.

The Blazers (43-31) salted away the victory by making 13 of 14 free-throw attempts in the final minute to send the Spurs (57-17) to their fourth straight defeat.

'It was a trap game once we got to the arena,' said Portland Nate McMillan in reference to the long list of missing Spurs.

Andre Miller scored 11 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter as Portland won the second of back-to-back games after losing at Oklahoma City Sunday night.

'We ain't going to throw (the victory) out, said Miller, who made 9 of 15 shots from the field and 8 of 10 from the line. 'Because if we'd have lost, we'd have looked back like (the Spurs) didn't have their players, and that was a game we needed.

'We're trying to finish off and get some momentum going into the playoffs.'

The Spurs, trailing 58-51 at the half, outscored Portland 21-9 in the third quarter to go in front 72-67. They upped the margin to 80-72 before they went cold, missing eight straight shots with three turnovers in their next 11 possessions as the Blazers - who outscored the hosts 33-20 in the final period - seized control.

NOTES - Portland ends its three-game road trip at New Orleans on Wednesday. ... Nicolas Batum scored 10 points and grabbed a season-high 13 rebounds for Portland. ... Gerald Wallace followed up his 40-point performance at Oklahoma City by collecting 14 points and seven boards. ... LaMarcus Aldridge had his second straight sub-par outing against San Antonio, making 4 of 10 shots while contributing nine points and three rebounds in 37 minutes. ... Brandon Roy made 5 of 7 shots and scored 11 points with four assists, but also had five turnovers in 24 minutes. ... the Spurs opened with regular starter Richard Jefferson along with Matt Bonner, Tiago Splitter, James Anderson and George Hill. Little-used reserves Steve Novak, Chris Quinn and Danny Green - the latter who had played 14 minutes all season - were among those who got rotation time. ... Hill led the Spurs with 27 points, six rebounds and six assists. Green was 3 for 3 from the field and contributed seven points and three rebounds in 20 minutes. ... The Blazers won the season series 3-1. ... San Antonio lost despite having a huge advantage in fast-break points (23-5) and points in the paint (48-34). ... the Blazers moved to within 1 1/2 games of Denver (44-29), which sits in fifth place in the West. ... the Spurs dropped to 33-4 at home this season.

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