The 34-year-old bones of Arvydas Sabonis normally creak and complain during long stretches of games. But they were more than energetic enough to carry the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
Sabonis scored 13 of his season-high 28 points in the fourth quarter to help Portland snap the San Antonio Spurs' nine-game winning streak with a 90-85 victory Friday night.
"Sabonis just dominated the fourth quarter. He was unstoppable," said teammate Brian Grant. "When you've got a 7-foot-3 guy shooting hooks, you can't stop that. He took control inside late in the game."
Two free throws by Sabonis gave the Blazers an 86-80 lead with 1:11 to go, but San Antonio raced back within a point with 21.3 seconds left. Mario Elie hit a 3-pointer, and after Tim Duncan blocked a layup attempt by Portland's Jim Jackson, Elie wound up with a dunk to make it 86-85.
Damon Stoudamire was fouled and made both free throws for an 88-85 lead with 19.3 seconds left. Steve Kerr and Sean Elliott both missed 3-point attempts for San Antonio, and Stoudamire made two more free throws to seal it with three seconds to go.
"Down the stretch, we made a couple of big mistakes with turnovers, and they kept pounding us," said Duncan, who had 29 points and 15 rebounds, but had only two points in the fourth quarter. "Sabonis was the key. He played great throughout, especially down the stretch, and hit all the big shots."
Sabonis, who also had 11 rebounds fighting against Duncan and David Robinson, scored 18 of his points in the final 15:31. His hook shot around Robinson gave the Blazers an 82-76 lead. A running hook off the glass and his two free throws made it a seven-point lead, which was too much for the Spurs to overcome.
"Coming into the game, after the long road, I figured his legs would be dead," Portland coach Mike Dunleavy sid of Sabonis, who played 32 minutes Thursday night at Sacramento and 40 minutes against the Spurs. "I tried to keep subbing for him. But he was playing so well. I just let him go, and he kept coming through for us."
The Blazers, who won for the 12th time in 14 games, were without shooting guard Isaiah Rider, who was suspended for one game and fined $7,500 by the NBA for kneeing the Kings' Jon Barry and shoving him in the face Thursday night.
"We were missing one of our core guys, playing a premier team, and we still found a way to win," said reserve guard Greg Anthony. "That is the sign of a great basketball team."
Jackson started in Rider's place and scored 12 points. Stoudamire added 13, and Grant had 12 rebounds.
Robinson had his second straight poor night. He scored 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting, two nights after scoring just three points against the Kings. It was Robinson's career low, except when he was shut out against the Jazz last year after being knocked cold by Karl Malone's elbow.
A 22-foot jumper by Antonio Daniels put the Spurs up 72-68 with 10:37 to go, but Portland responded with a 12-2 run to go ahead 80-74 with just under six minutes left. Walt Williams scored eight points in the run, including two 3-pointers, and Sabonis had a 3-pointer. Anthony also drew two charges during the run.
Sabonis' previous season high was 24 points against Vancouver in the second game of the season.
Portland went on an 8-1 run to end the first half leading 46-39. After Duncan threw away an inbounds pass with 3.1 seconds left, the Blazers' Stacey Augmon inbounded to Sabonis, who passed back to Augmon for an easy dunk.
Duncan scored 14 points in the third quarter to help the Spurs take a 68-65 lead into the fourth. He only took two shots in the final period, making a layup to draw the Spurs within 82-78 with 3:53 left.
Notes: With Utah's loss, Portland is now tied with the Jazz for the best record in the league at 19-5. ... San Antonio's starters, just 14-of-49 against the Kings on Wednesday night, improved to 26-of-60 against the Blazers. ... the Spurs shot 50 percent during their 10-game winning streak, but slipped to 40 percent Friday night. ... Both teams were playing their third game in four nights. ... Portland returned home after its second 3-1 road trip and now has an NBA-best nine road wins. Portland is 10-1 at home.
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