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Sputtering Trail Blazers Lose, Face Lakers Next

April 18, 2001|From Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. — Tim Duncan played the first two minutes of the fourth quarter. San Antonio's reserves took it from there to beat the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, 99-93, and guarantee the Spurs the best record in the NBA.

Damon Stoudamire scored 28 points to lead Portland, which sealed itself into the No. 7 playoff spot and an opening-round matchup with the Lakers.

Duncan scored 18 points, and the Spur bench had 22 of the team's 30 points in the fourth quarter.

The strong play from role players such as Steve Kerr, Malik Rose and Antonio Daniels allowed the Spurs to sit starters David Robinson, Derek Anderson and Terry Porter in the fourth, even though the game was close.

"It was huge for us to win with our reserves in the fourth," said Robinson, who had 12 points and nine rebounds in 21 minutes. "They played great defense and hit all the big shots down the stretch. It was great for Tim and Derek and I to rest and watch down the stretch."

The Spurs (58-23) had already earned home-court advantage in the Western Conference. San Antonio finishes its season tonight at Seattle.

Since the all-star break, the Spurs have gone 27-7, while the Trail Blazers went 15-17.

"It's hard to figure what is wrong with [that] team," Spur forward Sean Elliott said. "They seem to have a lot of good pieces, but they just don't fit together. They are really struggling."

The Trail Blazers played without leading scorer Rasheed Wallace, who was suspended for the game by Coach Mike Dunleavy for throwing a towel into the face of teammate Arvydas Sabonis in Sunday's loss to the Lakers.

Sabonis didn't play after spraining the middle finger of his left hand in the second quarter and scored only two points.

Stoudamire opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer that put the Trail Blazers ahead, 73-69. Elliott answered with a three-pointer, and Duncan made two inside shots to cap a 9-0 run and put the Spurs ahead, 78-73.

Kerr's three-pointer extended the lead to 85-77 with 7 1/2 minutes to go.

Portland didn't get closer than four until the final minutes.

A tip-in by Shawnelle Scott gave San Antonio a 91-84 lead with 1:22 left, but the Trail Blazers rallied with a jumper from Stoudamire and a slam dunk from Stacey Augmon to get within 91-88 with 1:01 to go.

Kerr made a jumper, however, and the Spurs made all six of their free throws over the final 21 seconds to seal it.

San Antonio won the season series, 3-1. The only playoff-bound team the Trail Blazers beat in a series was Utah, 3-1.

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