San Antonio (57-14) at Portland (41-30)

By JEFF BARTL, STATS Writer Thursday, Mar 24, 2011 Tipoff: 10:00 pm EDT Fri Mar 25, 2011

Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) helped beat the San Antonio Spurs with one of his best career performances in the teams’ most recent meeting.

With the Spurs lacking the inside presence of Tim Duncan(notes) this time, Aldridge and the Blazers may be due for another productive effort.

Portland looks to keep pace in the Western Conference playoff race Friday night when it shoots for its sixth straight home victory in the series against San Antonio.

Aldridge scored a then-career high 40 points and grabbed 11 rebounds Feb. 1 in a 99-86 win against the Spurs. He hit 16 of 23 shots, and the Blazers (49-33) outscored San Antonio 28-15 in the fourth quarter to pull away.

Aldridge would set a new career high just six days later with 42 points in a win over Chicago, and he’s been putting up solid numbers ever since. He had 22 points before resting the entire fourth quarter Tuesday in a 111-76 rout of Washington, and is averaging career-highs of 22.2 points and 8.7 rebounds this season.

The Blazers have won three of four and are sixth in the West, 1 1/2 games behind fifth-place Denver but only 1 1/2 up on eighth-place Memphis.

Gerald Wallace(notes) had his best performance since being traded to Portland from Charlotte at last month’s deadline, scoring 28 points on 10-for-14 shooting. It marked only the second time in 61 games this season Wallace made at least 10 field goals.

“I think I’ve found a comfort zone as far as playing with the guys, getting a feel for what the guys like to do,” Wallace said. “And I think they’re getting comfortable with me out there on the floor.”

Aldridge and Wallace were held in check in earlier meetings this season against San Antonio. Aldridge scored 16 points Dec. 12 in the Blazers’ 95-78 loss, while Wallace shot 2-for-11 and was held to seven points Nov. 8 in the Bobcats’ 95-91 defeat.

Short-handed San Antonio may need a similar defensive effort against Portland’s front line.

Duncan is out indefinitely after spraining his left ankle Monday against Golden State, and the Spurs allowed their most points in more than two months Wednesday after falling 115-112 to Denver.

San Antonio (57-14) leads the West by six games over the second-place Los Angeles Lakers, but hope to have Duncan back before the playoffs begin.

Gary Neal(notes) scored a career-high 25 points and Manu Ginobili(notes) added 20 for the Spurs, who led by as many as seven in the fourth quarter against the Nuggets. The 115 points allowed were the most since a 128-115 loss Jan. 4 against New York.

“We had a great opportunity. We were up 10-12 for a big part of the game,” Ginobili said. “But they got us on our heels. We stopped being aggressive. We settled for too many jumpers and they made more than us.”

Tony Parker(notes) added 19 points, but scored only six in the last meeting against Portland.

San Antonio hasn’t won at the Rose Garden since a 72-65 victory April 6, 2008.

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Friday, Mar 25