Spurs 84, Trail Blazers 74
SAN ANTONIO (AP)—Manu Ginobili did nothing Friday to hurt his chances for the NBA’s Sixth Man Award.
The second-year swingman from Argentina came off the bench late in the first quarter with San Antonio ahead by four. In less than six minutes, Ginobili scored 13 points and the Spurs had a 16-point advantage.
“I came out and hit my first two or three shots and felt pretty good,” said Ginobili, who has led the Spurs in scoring in five of the past 10 games. “When those go in, everything gets easier.”
Ginobili had 18 of his points in the first half, when the Spurs shot 58 percent to build a 20-point advantage that the Trail Blazers didn’t seriously challenge until the fourth quarter.
With the loss, Portland dropped into a three-way tie with Utah and Denver for the eighth playoff berth in the West.
The Blazers play Saturday at Denver.
“That will be a big game for us,” said Portland coach Maurice Cheeks. “It would have been nice to win here.”
The Blazers pulled to 73-66 on a 3-pointer by Derek Anderson with about five minutes left. Tony Parker then scored on a drive, and Duncan fed Rasho Nesterovic for a dunk to return the Spurs’ lead to double digits.
“We suffered a little letdown there for a while,” Duncan said. “They played us real physical tonight, especially in the post. That affected us a little bit.”
After their strong start, the Spurs scored 14 points in the third on 6-for-19 shooting and only two baskets in the first seven minutes of the fourth to let Portland get close.
Nesterovic added 16 points on 8-for-10 shooting, and Bruce Bowen had 12. Duncan led all rebounders with 14 and Nesterovic had 11.
“The Spurs play great defense, you have to give them credit, but we still made a lot of mistakes,” said Anderson. “It’s like we went out there and didn’t have a plan. I think we were rushing it a little bit, trying to force too much early offense.”
Ginobili started carrying the Spurs moments after he entered the game late in the first quarter.
He hit a 3-pointer from the wing to begin a 16-6 burst that gave San Antonio a 31-17 lead after one. Ginobili scored 10 of the points on the run, including another 3-pointer, and fed Duncan for a dunk.
“I don’t think a lot of attention is paid to him because of Duncan, (Tony) Parker and others,” Cheeks said of Ginobili, who also led the Spurs with five assists. “If he wasn’t taking and making the shot, he was kicking it to someone else.”
The Spurs made their first four attempts in the second—one of them Ginobili’s third 3-pointer—to go up 41-21.
Portland trimmed the difference to 41-29 with a run capped by Anderson’s 3-pointer with 5:26 remaining. But the Blazers managed only a pair of free throws by Shareef Abdur-Rahim and a layup by Damon Stoudamire before halftime.
Ginobili scored San Antonio’s final two baskets before the break, the second on a full-court drive and a layup over Abdur-Rahim at the buzzer to make it52-33.
The teams play again Monday night in Portland. … The Spurs have lost at home only once in 15 games since the All-Star break. That loss was by one point to Memphis on March 1. … Randolph made his first 3-pointer of theseason on a shot-clock-beating heave in the first quarter.