Spurs thwart Blazers
The Trail Blazers are no closer to clinching the No. 3 playoff seed in the Western Conference, or home-court advantage, than they were when they entered AT&T Center on Saturday night.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 28 points and Manu Ginobili came off the bench for 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter of San Antonio's 116-105 victory over Portland.
It was the third straight loss for the Blazers (48-32), all on their four-game road trip that ends Monday night at Denver.
Portland went in looking for a win that would eliminate the Spurs (46-34) from contention for the fourth seed in the West and guarantee the Blazers first-round homecourt advantage.
It didn't happen, thanks in no small part to Ginobili, who was 7 for 7 from the field — 3 for 3 from 3-point range — in helping the Spurs claim their 10th straight win at home.
Damian Lillard, who didn't play in Thursday's loss at Houston due to a sprained ankle, scored 33 points for the Blazers.
Evan Turner added 18 points and CJ McCollum 17 for Portland.
Portland's magic number to clinch the No. 4 seed is one — one win or one loss by the Spurs. Its magic number to cinch the third seed is two — two wins and/or losses by Utah (46-33).
The Blazers have two regular-season games remaining — Monday against the Nuggets (45-35), who are tied with Minnesota for eighth place in the West, and Wednesday at home against the Jazz.
Portland led the Spurs 56-54 at halftime. The Spurs carried a 81-77 edge into the final period.
Aldridge converted a three-point play to give San Antonio a 93-87 lead with 7:29 remaining. McCollum's 17-footer cut the margin to 93-89. Ginobili followed with eight straight points — back-to-back 3-pointers and a driving layup — to make it 101-89 with 6:02 to play.
Jusuf Nurkic hit a layup to cut it to 101-91 with 5:24 to go, but Aldridge converted another three-point play for a 104-91 Spurs lead with 5:13 left.
Turner's three-play play brought Portland to within 104-94 with 5:02 remaining. Turner followed with a runner to make it 104-96 with 4:06 to play. Patty Mills then knocked down a 3 to give San Antonio a 106-96 advantage with 3:43 left. Aldridge scored on a put-back to up the lead to 108-96 with three minutes to go.
Turner scored on a drive to cut the difference to 109-98, but Kyle Anderson's driving layup hiked the Spurs' lead to 111-98. Lillard followed with a 3 make get the Blazers to within 111-101, but they would get no closer.