Spurs - Trailblazers Preview
For the second straight season, the San Antonio Spurs have a chance to win 12 straight games. In order to repeat that feat, however, they must find a way to win in Portland.
The Spurs look to extend the NBA's longest winning stretch of the season and snap a six-game road skid against the Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.
Tony Parker had 23 points with 11 assists, Tim Duncan added 20 and Richard Jefferson hit a 3-pointer with 6.5 seconds left to seal San Antonio's 11th consecutive victory, 106-102 at Utah on Monday. The Spurs (23-9), winners of 12 straight from Nov. 1-24, 2010, have won eight in a row on the road, including the first seven on a nine-game trip that ends Thursday in Denver.
The Spurs, who last won nine straight away from home Jan. 16-Feb. 12, 2006, have averaged 107.3 points in the last three games. They also continue to win the close ones, with the last four decided by seven or fewer points.
San Antonio overcame a 10-point third-quarter deficit to extend a winning streak that dates to a 101-100 overtime loss at Dallas on Jan. 29.
"Persistence," said Duncan, averaging 16.2 points in the last 10 games. "It kind of shows the character of this team, how we've been playing over the last 10-15 games. We're really starting to turn that corner."
San Antonio, however, has averaged 90.3 points during a six-game skid at Portland that dates to a 72-65 win April 6, 2008. It's the team's longest current losing streak to a single opponent.
Parker had 20 points and nine assists in San Antonio's 99-83 home win over the Trail Blazers on Jan. 13, but he's averaged 10.8 and 3.8 assists in the last four at Portland.
The veteran point guard has averaged 25.5 points in the last 10 games overall, including 29.0 and 11.7 assists over the last three.
"Tony's an All-Star," coach Gregg Popovich said. "He had another magnificent game (Monday) - scoring, finding people, playing tough, being a leader. He was good."
The Spurs continue to succeed despite playing without injured contributors Manu Ginobili (oblique) and Tiago Splitter (calf), both expected to miss two weeks.
"When you have guys that go down, I think sometimes it helps guys re-focus knowing you have less room for error," Jefferson said. "Everybody has to contribute."
Though the Spurs have had their problems in Portland, the Trail Blazers (17-16) have lost four of five at home since winning 11 of their first 12 at the Rose Garden. Portland snapped a four-game home skid with a 97-77 win over Atlanta on Saturday, but fell 103-92 to the Lakers in Los Angeles on Monday.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum each had 18 points as the Trail Blazers were unable to overcome a 29-7 first-quarter deficit Monday. It was the lowest-scoring first quarter in club history.
"We have to have everyone ready," Aldridge said. "We all have to be ready to play our best game. (Monday) it wasn't there."
Despite his team's inconsistency, Batum has averaged 21.8 points on 51.2 percent shooting (43 of 84) in the last five games since entering the starting lineup.
Aldridge, who had 29 points at San Antonio earlier this season, has averaged 23.2 during the Trail Blazers' home winning streak in the series.
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