PORTLAND, Oregon (Ticker) -- All of a sudden, team chemistry and the Portland Trail Blazers can be mentioned in the same sentence.
Scottie Pippen and Derek Anderson scored 19 points apiece as the Trail Blazers held off a late run by the San Antonio Spurs and posted a 90-87 victory.
In recent seasons, poor team chemistry has been Portland's downfall in the tough Western Conference. A 7-9 start, coupled with off-the-court problems involving Ruben Patterson, Damon Stoudamire and Rasheed Wallace, stirred resentment in the community.
But the Blazers have won 11 of their last 13 games and sit in second place in the Pacific Division.
"I think it's from playing together," Anderson said. "We're playing with maturity. We've grown up. We've haven't gotten any technicals lately. That's been our biggest key. We've just started playing basketball and playing together."
"I think early on, we weren't winning close games," Portland coach Maurice Cheeks added. "We had a call here and a call there that didn't go our way and resulted in our early record being what it was. As of late, we've been winning a lot of close games, a lot of tough games down the stretch."
In this one, Portland took a 64-55 lead into the fourth quarter before San Antonio battled back. The Spurs used an 8-2 run to take their only lead, 80-78, following two free throws by Malik Rose.
But Anderson hit a pair of jumpers and Pippen sank a running jumper to put Portland ahead, 86-83, with 58 seconds remaining.
The Spurs had a chance to get within one, but point guard Tony Parker's jumper was short and Bonzi Wells grabbed the rebound. Anderson breezed through the paint and converted a layup to give Portland an 88-83 cushion.
After Tim Duncan's hoop made it a three-point game, Anderson was fouled and sank both foul shots to seal the Blazers' latest win.
"It ended up being a pretty good game," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I thought we did a good job of finding a way to get some juice and hang in there and dig down and try to get win in a tough situation. Unfortunately, in the last minute, we made three defensive errors in a row that kind of gave it away."
Stephen Jackson led the Spurs with 18 points, but Duncan was limited to 12 on 5-of-15 shooting.
Duncan scored just five points at halftime as the Blazers took a 41-35 lead into the locker room. He had trouble getting open looks with Wallace guarding him.
For the second straight meeting with the Spurs, Portland jumped out early. In a 95-76 win at San Antonio on November 9, the Blazers held the Spurs to 10 points in the first quarter. San Antonio managed just 12 in the opening period at the Rose Garden.
Duncan grew so frustrated he screamed, "Get in there" after missing an open jumper late in the second period.
"Down the stretch there were too many mistakes and they all caught up to us," Duncan said. "DA (Anderson) with the layup down the middle, Dale Davis hitting the fadeaway jumper, just the little things that we could have taken care of and changed the game."
The Spurs had a chance to take control in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 49-47 on Bruce Bowen's 3-pointer and tying it on Jackson's layup with 5:37 left.
But Stoudamire, who had not played in four of the previous five games, checked in and sparked a rally. He found center Arvydas Sabonis for a 3-pointer at 4:43 that made it 52-49 and drilled a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left, opening a 61-53 advantage.