SAN ANTONIO (AP) – Tim Duncan had 24 points and 13 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs got their title defense off to a successful start with a 106-97 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

Tony Parker added 19 points for the Spurs and Manu Ginobili had 16 points and eight assists.

LaMarcus Aldridge led the Trail Blazers with 27 points. Martell Webster added 21 and Joel Przybilla contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds for Portland.

Despite the long-awaited ring ceremony to kick things off, the game didn’t have quite the excitement that was anticipated when it was announced the Spurs would open against the Trail Blazers, who drafted Greg Oden with the No. 1 overall pick. Oden had microfracture knee surgery this summer, ending his first season before practice even began.

With Oden out, it only seemed appropriate that this night would be all about the Spurs. And it was, with the Spurs controlling the game until the Trail Blazers threatened with about two minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Aldridge’s basket brought the Blazers within three points, the closest they’d been all quarter.

, with 2:01 left.

Parker made it 100-95 for San Antonio, then a goaltending call against Aldridge gave Parker another basket, putting the Spurs up 102-95 with 1:07 to play.

Brandon Roy, last season’s Rookie of the Year, hit one of two free throws to make it 102-96. But another goaltending call, this time against Przybilla, gave Duncan a basket and the Spurs a 104-96 lead with 36 ticks on the clock.

Brent Barry had 12 points for San Antonio. Travis Outlaw scored 11 for Portland.

Also before the game, the team’s fourth championship banner was unveiled to deafening cheers from the sellout crowd.

Then it was back to square one: 82 games to go before the Spurs can even start thinking about repeating for the first time.

“It’s to be appreciated and enjoyed until the very, very last minute,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of the title. “So if we lose, blame it on my bad prep.”

Parker got off to a good start, racing up and down the court and scoring 11 points in the first quarter on 4-of-5 shooting. He and Duncan had rested often during the preseason, and in the first quarter they played with all the energy they had apparently stored up during the layoff.

The Spurs were up 29-26 after the first quarter and extended their lead to as many as 16 points in the second, going up 55-39 off Duncan’s layup with 4:31 to go.

The Trail Blazers cut the lead in the third, though, as they outscored the Spurs 28-22. They got as close as 79-77 as Webster hit a 3-pointer with 33 seconds to play. The Spurs ended the quarter up 81-77.

Ginobili dunked with just over 10 minutes to go to give San Antonio a six-point lead, then followed with a layup 31 seconds later to put the Spurs up 88-80.

Notes: Popovich received a 2007 Distinguished Graduate Award from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado. Popovich graduated from the Academy in 1970 and played basketball all four years he spent there. He later served as assistant coach of the Academy’s basketball team for six years. … Darius Washington, a Spurs’ training camp invitee who impressed his way onto the team, played backup point guard to Parker and hit a 3-pointer early in the fourth that put San Antonio up 84-77.

AP-ES-10-30-07 2310EDT

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