Portland (42-31) at San Antonio (57-16)

By ALAN FERGUSON, STATS Writer Monday, Mar 28, 2011 Tipoff: 8:30 pm EDT Mon Mar 28, 2011

The Portland Trail Blazers took advantage of San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan’s(notes) absence this past weekend to keep a late season surge going.

As they try to bounce back from their fourth defeat in 13 games, the Blazers could face an even more short-handed Spurs team Monday night.

Because of a bruised left thigh, San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili’s(notes) status is uncertain for the rematch at the AT&T Center.

The NBA-best Spurs (57-16) have lost a season-high three straight since Duncan sprained his left ankle in a win over Golden State last Monday, and they played without Ginobili for much of the second half of Sunday’s 111-104 loss at Memphis.

“We don’t have time to worry about (injuries),” point guard Tony Parker(notes) said. “Timmy is not coming back anytime soon, so we just have to keep playing and make sure we pound that rock. Hopefully, it will go our way.”

George Hill(notes) tried to keep his team in the game by matching a career high with 30 points off the bench. Parker added 20 for San Antonio, which squandered a slim lead late.

“I was really proud of them,” said coach Gregg Popovich, who was ejected in the second quarter. “We’ve had three tough road games. They pulled together pretty well and gave it their best shot. They just came out on the short end.”

The Spurs also came out on the short end Friday in Portland, where Nicolas Batum(notes) scored at the buzzer to give the Blazers a 98-96 victory. Batum and Andre Miller(notes) finished with 21 points apiece, and Ginobili had 21 for San Antonio, which committed three turnovers in the final 40 seconds.

That win was Portland’s fifth in six games, but it followed with a 99-90 loss to Oklahoma City on Sunday. The Blazers (42-31), who matched a season high with their fourth straight road loss, couldn’t take advantage of Gerald Wallace’s(notes) season-high 40 points as LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) was the only other player in double figures with 20.

With the loss, Portland’s lead on sixth place in the West remained one-half game over New Orleans.

“I’d rather take the win than take the points,” Wallace told the team’s website. “I think it was a good game, but we just had some crucial moments where we didn’t execute and things didn’t go our way.”

The Blazers are attempting to avoid their first five-game road losing streak since Feb. 4-25, 2009, but will likely need better shooting than in their 95-78 loss at the AT&T Center on Dec. 12.

The Spurs took advantage of a 37.9-percent performance to snap a five-game skid in the series. Hill scored a team-best 22 points, and Duncan grabbed 13 rebounds in his 1,000th regular-season contest.

When the teams met again Feb. 1 in Portland, Aldridge scored a then-career high 40 points in a 99-86 victory.

The Blazers have prevailed in two of their last three games in San Antonio after losing 11 in a row there.

The Spurs are seeking their fifth consecutive home win and 27th in 28 games.

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Monday, Mar 28