Blazers Move Into Sixth
By mikebarrett Posted in: Blazers
It could be only for a short time, and it may not help decide who they play in the first round of the playoffs, but the Trail Blazers moved ahead of both San Antonio and Oklahoma City in the Western Conference race.
The standings will show a three-way tie between the teams, as they all sit 48-30, but the Blazers own the tiebreaker against the Spurs, and lead the season series with Oklahoma City, so get listed ahead of them for now. This much is true; the Blazers now somewhat control their own destiny. If they win their remaining four games, which won’t be easy, the Blazers will end the season in the sixth spot. They still won’t know who they play, and can’t control that, but could cement their own spot if they keep winning.
All of these factors aside, it does look nice to see the Blazers jump up two spots, following the 93-85 win over the Clippers at the Staples Center in L.A. To illustrate how jammed this race is, Utah, with their loss at Houston on Wednesday night, tumbled from second to fifth in the standings. That too, however, could be temporary.
The Blazers got the job done against the Clippers, despite seeing their 21-point lead cut to eight in the final minutes. They never really lost control though, and the outcome never really seemed in doubt. When Juwan Howard hit a jumper with 1:31 left, the Blazers got the lead back to 10 at 91-81, and that put a lid on things.
Once again, it was Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge who did the heavy lifting offensively. Aldridge, who showed tremendous energy from the start, finished with 27 points, 12 rebounds, and also dished out five assists. Roy, who had 11 in the first quarter, ended with 23 points and six assists.
The other Blazers in double figures were Andre Miller (13), Nicolas Batum (11), and Howard, who had 10 off the bench.
The only negative in this game was seeing Marcus Camby leave the game in the third quarter complaining of tightness in his hamstring. He quickly went to the locker room, but returned to the bench moments later and didn’t seem too worried about it. Nate McMillan, in his post-game comments, said he didn’t think it was anything serious. Still, given what Brandon has gone through with his hamstring this season, it’s not something you want to hear.
There are only four games left now. The Trail Blazers host Dallas on Friday night, play the Lakers on Sunday, host Oklahoma City on Monday, and close out the regular season against Golden State on Wednesday.
Last season the Blazers learned who their first-round opponent would be on the final night of the regular season. Don’t be shocked to see this same thing happen again. We can sit and predict, and try and prepare for who it will be, but all the Blazers can do is take care of their business the rest of the way.
That starts with Dallas on Friday, when Portland will go for the season-series sweep. With a win, it’ll be the first time in franchise history the Blazers will have swept the Spurs and Mavericks in the same season.