Hot Spurs clinch No. 1 seed in West with blowout win against Trail Blazers

Hot Spurs clinch No. 1 seed in West with blowout win against Trail Blazers

Credit: Antonio Morano / Special to Kens5.com

Tim Duncan hit 8 of 13 shots and finished with 18 points and eight rebounds to help lead the Spurs to a blowout victory in their final home game of the regular season.

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by David Flores / Kens5.com

kens5.com

Posted on April 24, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 24 at 9:30 AM

The Spurs clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference for the second year in a row Monday night, routing the Portland Trail Blazers 124-89 for their eighth consecutive victory.

The big question after the blowout at the AT&T Center was whether the Big Three will even make the road trip for the Spurs' final two regular-season games against Phoenix and Golden State on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

"That's up to Pop," Tim Duncan said when asked if he thought he, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker would play in the last two games of the lockout-shortened regular season. "Pop orchestrates all of that and I would have to imagine that he is going to make the right call at that point.

"Obviously, we don't want to do too much with the rest where we lose the rhythm and don't feel good going into the playoffs. It is a great opportunity for us to work on the injuries that we have, and stretch it out a little bit to be ready for the first game of the playoffs."

The Spurs (48-16) will play either Utah (34-30) or Phoenix (33-31) in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday or Sunday. Utah, which holds the No. 8 and final playoff spot in the West, and Phoenix clash Tuesday night.

Unlike last season, when they lost eight of their last 12 regular-season games and were stunned by No. 8 seed Memphis in the first round of the playoffs, the Spurs look like a team that could make a serious bid for the franchise's fifth NBA championship.

Spurs a league-best 36-7 in their last 43 games

The Silver & Black have won nine of their last 11 games, 22 of their last 25 and an NBA-best 36 of their last 43.

"You've just got to give Coach Popovich and his staff every credit," said Trail Blazers interim coach Kaleb Canales, who participated in Spurs youth camps while growing up in Laredo. "I think they're playing their best basketball of the year at the right time for them.

"They're playing well offensively, sharing the basketball, making the extra pass, and defensively I was really impressed with their communication tonight."

The Spurs shared the ball so well against the Blazers (28-37) that they finished with a season-high 34 assists. Parker and Boris Diaw led the way with six assists each.

San Antonio hit 48 of 81 field-goal attempts for 59.3 percent, and was 12 of 22 from 3-point land.

Duncan and Danny Green scored 18 points each to lead the Spurs, who led 31-18 after one quarter, 63-41 at halftime and 91-65 heading into the final period. Popovich kept all of his starters on the bench in the fourth quarter.

Duncan hit 8 of 13 shots and led the Spurs with eight rebounds, and Green was 4-for-4 from beyond the 3-point line and made all six of his field-goal attempts.

Popovich praises Spurs' bench

Four other Spurs --- Parker (13), Stephen Jackson (12), Gary Neal (12) and James Anderson (11) --- scored in double figures.

Jackson had one of his best overall games since he was acquired by the Spurs in a trade with Golden State on March 15, hitting 6 of 10 shots and finishing with four assists, five steals and two blocked shots.

The Spurs, who never trailed, led by as many as 37 points and got 67 points from their bench for the second consecutive night.

Portland, which lost its sixth game in a row, hit only 37 of 96 shots for 38.5 percent. Wesley Matthews led the Blazers with 24 points.

"Everybody wants to go into the playoffs healthy, with energy and rhythm, and we're no different than anyone else," Popovich said. "So, hopefully, that's the position that we're in."

Popovich had plenty of praise for his backup players.

"We've had good bench play all season long," he said. "That's why we've had the success we've had thus far. They have done a great job. Our young guys who have been starting have done a great job. The guys off the bench have given us a punch most nights and we've come to depend on that."

The Spurs finished the regular season 28-5 at the AT&T Center, tying the Miami Heat for the best home record in the NBA this season.

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