The Portland Trail Blazers’ chances at a postseason berth may depend on how well they are able to handle one of the league’s hottest teams.
In a tight race for eighth place in the Western Conference, the Trail Blazers face a daunting final four games, two of which are against the surging San Antonio Spurs.
Portland, battling Denver and Utah Jazz for eighth place in the West, faces a San Antonio team that has won seven straight. The Trail Blazers meet the Spurs again Monday in Portland.
“They’ve got good chemistry,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said of the Trail Blazers. “I think they are playing as well as anybody in the league right now. … They’re going to be a big challenge for us.”
Portland’s other two games are against the Nuggets on Saturday and the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, so that made its 87-81 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday all that much more important.
The Blazers looked like the playoff team they hope to be the night before in a 91-80 victory over the Lakers at the Staples Center.
“We knew if we won in Los Angeles, we could win in San Antonio,” Portland forward Ruben Patterson said. “We could win the rest of them. I like our chances.”
San Antonio is trying to catch the Minnesota Timberwolves for first place in the Midwest Division. The Spurs have beaten their opponents by an average margin of nearly 15 points per game, and have allowed more than 89 points just once during their streak.
STANDINGS (through April 7): Trail Blazers - 3rd place, 13 1/2 GB, Pacific Division. Spurs - 2nd place, 1 GB, Midwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Trail Blazers - Randolph, 20.1 ppg and 10.5 rpg; Stoudamire, 6.1 apg. Spurs - Duncan, 22.4 ppg and 12.4 rpg; Parker, 5.5 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Spurs, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 20; Spurs, 101-91. At Portland, Duncan had 26 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Spurs.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Trail Blazers - 16-23 on the road; Spurs - 31-8 at home.
INJURIES: Trail Blazers - G Omar Cook (quadriceps); C Vladimir Stepania (knee); F Travis Outlaw (foot). Spurs - G Matt Carroll (knee); G Alex Garcia (knee); G Anthony Carter (foot); F-C Sean Marks (knee).