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Preview: No Ellis When Trail Blazers Close Regular Season In Oakland

04/13/11
  1. Written by: ShalamarClark  / avg. rating: 4.5

    Half of the guessing game is over for the Portland Trail Blazers–they own the sixth seed going into the playoffs.

    Now, they will have to wait to see which team–Dallas, Los Angeles or Oklahoma City–will join them in the first round.

    Both the Mavericks and Lakers are tied 56-25 with Los Angeles holding the tiebreaker. The two teams will compete in matchups on Wednesday to determine who will claim the second and third-place seats.

    The No. 4 Thunder (55-26) are not out of the picture to jump into the third spot. Since winning the Northwest Division, they hold the tiebreaker over the Mavericks. Oklahoma City would have to beat the Milwaukee Bucks and have Dallas lose against New Orleans.  

    In the meantime, Portland (48-33) will try to split the series against the Golden State Warriors (35-46) in a back-to-back and close the regular season Wednesday at Oracle Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 PM.

    The Trail Blazers have stepped on the gas, winning five of their last six games, including topping their last three with one matchup remaining before making their third straight playoff appearance.

    Portland clinched its rights to the sixth spot in the Western Conference after LaMarcus Aldridge scored a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 102-89 Tuesday at the Rose Garden.

    Rudy Fernandez had 18 points off the Trail Blazers’ bench and knocked down four 3-pointers after going 0-for-11 in his last three games. Nicolas Batum recorded 16 points and Gerald Wallace added 14.

    Portland is looking to get payback for its 108-87 loss at home to Golden State on April 15, which snapped its two-game streak. 

    Monta Ellis, who shot 11-of-19 for the Warriors, hit four three-pointers to his game-high 30 points. However, he will not play in Wednesday's matchup after suffering a Grade 2 concussion in Sunday’s loss to the Sacramento Kings. Ellis was averaging 31.7 points in three meetings against Portland.
     
    David Lee ended with a double-double of 29 points and a season-best 20 rebounds. Stephen Curry added 28 points and eight rebounds.

    The Trail Blazers had a balanced scoring night with five players reaching double-digit figures–Aldridge (17 points and 12 rebounds), Wesley Matthews (17), Batum (15), Andre Miller (12) and Wallace (10).

    Portland had trouble connecting from downtown as Fernandez, Batum and Matthews combined for just 2-of-17 and the Trail Blazers finished shooting 3-of-21 from three-range. 

    Golden State, however, has slid in its last two contests, including its most recent loss in Denver on April 11, that its scoring leader Ellis missed. 

    The Warriors fell 134-111 on the road after being outworked 80-57 in the second half to the No. 5 Nuggets behind 22 points from J.R. Smith.

    Curry and Dorell Wright each put in 27 points, Reggie Williams helped with 17 and Lee added 10, but Golden State was dominate on the glass 49-37 and in assists 31-20. 

    Golden State has claimed series wins in three of the last five seasons.

    Portland will be without Greg Oden and Elliot Williams, who both are nursing knee-related injuries.

    Curry is listed as questionable for the Warriors with a right sprained ankle.

    Watch the Trail Blazers close out the regular season on Comcast SportsNet Channel 37 with Mike Barrett and Mike Rice, and listen to the live play-by-play from Brian Wheeler and Antonio Harvey on 95.5 FM The Game.  

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