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Spurs cautious about trip to Portland
Up 2-0 in series, San Antonio's not swaggering

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The San Antonio Spurs have beaten the Portland Trail Blazers five straight times. Of the three games Portland lost at home this season, one was to San Antonio.

So logic would dictate that the Spurs would have some swagger as they approach Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Friday night at Portland's Rose Garden.The Spurs, though, are smarter than that.

They know how lucky they were to escape the Alamodome with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.

"We really haven't played good basketball yet, not the way we want to," David Robinson said after the team held a final practice in San Antonio on Wednesday before flying to the Pacific Northwest. "We were really fortunate. We don't want to put ourselves in that position again, obviously."

Avery Johnson was even more emphatic.

"We're going up there humbled," he said.

Robinson thinks he knows how tough the 80-76 and 86-85 losses in San Antonio were on the Blazers' psyche.

"We went through the same thing last year with Utah, losing close games," Robinson said, "and it hurts because you feel like you gave it away."

The Spurs have won eight playoff games in a row and are 4-0 on the road in the playoffs. They like some things about being away from the Alamodome and the Spurs-crazy city of San Antonio.

"The road is excellent because you've got less distractions," Mario Elie said. "At home, you've got family members, people calling. You can't go to the store because people are telling you that you're great. We haven't accomplished anything yet. We've just won two playoff games.

"On the road, it's just you and your teammates, and your concentration level is high."

Portland's Isaiah Rider said after the Blazers practiced Wednesday that his right knee feels better and he expects to be ready Friday night.

The knee, originally injured against Phoenix in the first round, locked up in the third quarter Monday night, and Rider sat out the final period, much to his obvious disgust at the time.

"It's just really sore," he said. "It just locked up on me. I popped it out and made it swell and made it really sore. It has a spot there that's really tender. It's just a freak thing, really."

Rider averaged 19 points in the Blazers' series victories against Phoenix and Utah. He's scored only 16 in the two San Antonio games. He said he accepts his more limited role against San Antonio as Portland focuses on the matchup advantages Rasheed Wallace has at forward.

"Of course, I want the ball, that's just me," Rider said. "I'd like to turn it up at any point in time. But I don't want to go out there and take all kinds of crazy shots just because I did well in the first two series."