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Blazers grab rare victory at Spurs

THE Portland Trail Blazers erased an early 19-point deficit to post a 95-83 road win over the ailing San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.

The victory was Portland's first in San Antonio since 2002, ending an 11-game losing streak, and pulled the team into a tie for third in the Western Conference with four games remaining.

Brandon Roy had a team-high 26 points and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half as the Blazers earned their 50th win of the year.

"Fifty wins says a lot about our young team. It shows that we're moving forward," Roy told reporters.

"The question mark about our team was can we beat a top team on the road. To do it in April when the West is so tight is big, but we have to build on it."

Roger Mason led the Spurs, who have the same 50-28 record as Portland, with 18 points in their second game since learning they would miss Argentine guard Manu Ginobili for the rest of the season with an ankle injury.

The health of fellow All-Star Tim Duncan was also in doubt after forward struggled to just four points and five rebounds and kept out down the stretch because of recurring knee problems.

Duncan attempted to re-enter the game in the fourth quarter but San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich told him: "I can't do it Tim - you can't move out there. I don't want a hero I want a healthy guy."

Point guard Tony Parker, who has carried the load for the Spurs this season, had 17 points and seven assists as his team fell into a tie with the Houston Rockets and Blazers in the West.

San Antonio led 39-20 with 9:45 left in the second but Portland caught fire and closed the half with a 27-10 run to pull within two by halftime.


"We have that kind of never-quit attitude," Roy said. "We knew they would try to hit us hard early but we kept playing and this was a huge win for us."

The Blazers, already assured of their first playoff appearance since 2003, are fighting for a top four spot and home court advantage in the first round.

In Cleveland, LeBron James scored 21 points as the Cavaliers avenged an embarrassing loss to one of the league's worst teams by thumping the rival Washington Wizards 98-86.

The Cavs became the first team in NBA history to have two 15-game winning streaks at home in the same season.

In Boston, Rajon Rondo had 31 points, nine rebounds and five assists as Boston overcame an early 10-point deficit and a last-minute scare to beat New Jersey 106-14.

The Celtics assured themselves of a lead over the Orlando Magic in the race for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, and kept the Cavs from locking up best record in the East. Vince Carter had 33 points and 12 rebounds for the Nets.

In Dallas, the Mavericks clinched the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and took a huge step to possibly avoiding the No. 8 seed and a first-round series against the Lakers with a 130-101 win over the Jazz.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points for the Mavericks.

Elsewhere, it was: Nuggets 122, Thunder 112; Suns 105, Hornets 100; Magic 81, Grizzlies 78; Hawks 113, Bucks 105; Pistons 113, Knicks 86; Pacers 130, Raptors 101; and Timberwolves 105, Warriors 97.


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