Spurs won 8 straight, clinch West top spot
The San Antonio Spurs are peaking at the right time, defeating their opponents with relative ease as they march into the post season.
Tim Duncan scored 18 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots in 26 minutes as the Spurs clinched the top playoff spot in the Western Conference and pushed their win streak to eight games, mauling the Portland Trail Blazers 124-89 on Monday night.
Wesley Matthews had 24 points for the Trail Blazers, who lost their sixth straight and have one game left in a disappointing season in which they certainly missed their franchise big man LaMarcus Aldridge.
The blowout win let coach Gregg Popovich start the resting process early.
Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili didn't play in the fourth quarter, and there is a big chance that either of the Big 3 won't play in the remaining games at Phoenix and Golden State to keep them fresh and healthy for the post season grind.
San Antonio could determine their first-round opponent as early as Tuesday, when Phoenix plays at Utah in a game that could decide the No. 8 seed.
Danny Green had 18 points for the Spurs, Parker added 13 points, six assists and seven rebounds, while Stephen Jackson and Gary Neal scored 12 points apiece.
The Spurs secured the top seed with a second-half surge, winning 22 of their last 25 games.
Getting No. 1 wound up meaning nothing last season, the Memphis Grizzlies knocked them out in a first-round stunner, but the Spurs are undoubtedly deeper and healthier this time around.
J.J. Hickson had 14 points and 10 rebounds, Raymond Felton scored 13 points and Johnny Flynn had 10 points for the Trail Blazers.
Portland's losing streak is a season high and interim coach Kaleb Canales -- who grew up two hours south in the border city of Laredo -- was humiliated in his homecoming.
It was the Trail Blazers' most lopsided defeat since Canales took over in March after Nate McMillan was fired. Before the game Canales, the NBA's first Mexican-American coach, played down the emotion of being home with a caravan of friends and family watching in the stands.
The 35-point win tied for San Antonio's biggest blowout this season.
The Spurs will play two more regular season games, a back-to-back; that starts on Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns, who could possibly be their first round playoff opponent.
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)