PORTLAND (NBA.com exclusive) -- The Portland Trail Blazers are still looking for the big knockout punch to go with their jabs, and they're still looking for a way to do it without having to put all their weight on Brandon Roy.
But they are no longer looking for a way to stop their embarrassing two-game home-court losing streak after shoving the San Antonio Spurs out of the way 96-84 at the Rose Garden.
The game had all the possibilities of a Portland blowout. The Blazers exploded for 29 first-quarter points, and the experiment of starting Andre Miller at point guard worked to coach Nate McMillan's satisfaction.
Then the Spurs lost Tony Parker to a sprained ankle in the second quarter and a packed Rose Garden house was in full throat for the kill.
The Blazers appeared ready to cooperate: They had a 15-point lead after one period and led by 17 twice in the middle of the third quarter.
But the Spurs banged and thumped their way back into the game in tiny increments. An 8-point run in the middle of the last quarter put them within three points at 75-72, and if Richard Jefferson makes a free throw with 2:57 left they're within two.
That was where it ended, though. McMillan called for Roy to handle the ball into the Blazers' offense and the team settled back into the right rhythm.
"It was a good win for us," McMillan said. "We've been trying to find our rhythm. I felt like we haven't played well even though we had two wins, and tonight I felt like we had good rhythm.
"The offensive execution, the movement was better. We got the tempo we wanted."
That was another way of declaring an experiment in his starting lineup a success. McMillan started Andre Miller for Martell Webster, and was quick to give himself an A for the idea.
"I thought we got more from him," he said. "He got everybody involved, a lot of communication, and just looked in sync even though that (unit) hasn't played a lot together.
"I'm going to take a look at that lineup again. In the next week or two, maybe, we'll stay with those guards."
McMillan also gave Miller credit for calling the offensive sets that drew the best game of the year out of Greg Oden. The big guy hit 6 of 9 field goals for 14 points and had 4 blocks to go with 8 rebounds.
Roy, who scored a game-high 24 points and settled the team in the final five minutes, was open to the idea, too.
"It was a change of pace," he said. "Maybe it was something that we needed."
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was discouraged with his team's slow start.
"We turned it over and couldn't score," he said of the 15-point hold his team dug for itself, "and played poor defense at the same time. We got beat on the boards like we have been."
It looked a little like the Spurs' Thursday night game at Utah. The Spurs played more or less evenly after the first period and nearly got back in the game.
"From the second quarter on," Popovich said, "we competed, we were physical, a lot of guys did a good job for us defensively. We didn't make shots very well, but I'm not that concerned about that.
"I'm happy with what I saw defensively. It was a step in the right direction."
In the matter of the Spurs' second-half comeback, McMillan said that it was a matter of the Blazers losing focus.
"We were attacking," he said, "then we stopped attacking and started isolating and going one on one."