Phoenix (44-36) at Portland (49-31)

Light Rain Currently: Portland, OR
Temp: 61° F
  • Game info: 10:00 pm EDT Tue Apr 15, 2003
  • TV: KUTP, ASCN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

While the Phoenix Suns know they will open the playoffs on the road against the Western Conference’s top seed, the Portland Trail Blazers still don’t know where they will be when the postseason begins.

With just two games remaining on their schedule, the Blazers continue their push for homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs when they host the Suns.

Portland is in fifth place in the West, trailing the Minnesota Timberwolves by one-half game for the fourth spot.

To finish fourth, the Blazers must win their final two games—Tuesday at home against Phoenix and Wednesday in Los Angeles against the Clippers—and hope the Wolves lose in Memphis on Wednesday.

Portland got back on the winning track on Sunday, beating the sixth-place Los Angeles Lakers 101-99 on Rasheed Wallace’s 3-pointer with 4.1 seconds left.

The Blazers, who had lost two straight and four of six, opened up a one-game lead over the three-time defending champs for fifth place.

“The last three or four games we’ve been struggling with our team defense, scoring and rebounding. But guys stepped up today,” Wallace said. “We need to finish these last games and get that steam rolling heading into the playoffs.”

Phoenix earned the right to face the West’s top seed when it clinched the eighth and final playoff berth in the conference with a 92-85 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.

San Antonio, which had won 11 straight, is in contention for the No. 1 seed in the West and could be Phoenix’s first-round opponent.

Shawn Marion scored 24 points and Stephon Marbury had 23 points and 10 assists as the Suns became the only team to beat the Spurs three times this season.

Regardless of who he faces in the first round, Marbury is just thrilled to be in the postseason for the first time since 1998.

“It means everything to me,” Marbury said. “I’m just elated right now. I’m probably the happiest person on this earth right now. I haven’t been this happy since my kids were born.”

STANDINGS: Suns - 4th place, 13 1/2 GB, Pacific Division. Trail Blazers - 2nd place, 8 1/2 GB, Pacific Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Suns - F Marion, F Amare Stoudemire, C Scott Williams, G Penny Hardaway, G Marbury. Trail Blazers - F Wallace, F Bonzi Wells, C Dale Davis, G Derek Anderson, G Damon Stoudamire.

TEAM LEADERS: Suns - Marbury, 22.7 ppg and 8.2 apg; Marion, 9.7 rpg. Trail Blazers - Wallace, 18.3 ppg and 7.5 rpg; Scottie Pippen, 4.5 apg.

SEASON SERIES: Suns, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: March 5; Suns, 98-92. At Phoenix, Marbury scored 33 points, and Marion scored 12 of his 22 in the final 4 1/2 minutes to lead the Suns.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Suns - 14-25 on the road. Trail Blazers - 26-14 at home.

INJURIES: Suns - F Alton Ford (back); G Randy Brown (calf). Trail Blazers - G Pippen (knee); G Charles Smith (hip); C Chris Dudley (side).

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