The Portland Trail Blazers still have a chance to move up in the Western Conference. A three-day break gave them some time to refocus before starting a busy final stretch.
The Trail Blazers face the lowly Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night in what should be one of their easiest matchups over the next week.
This is Portland’s first contest since a 98-87 win over Sacramento on Saturday night. The Blazers (47-30), in eighth place in the West, have already secured a postseason berth but are still contending with San Antonio and Oklahoma City for position in the conference.
“You want to be the best you can be in the regular season and the regular season is not over,” coach Nate McMillan said. “We have an opportunity to move from the eighth spot to the seventh spot and possibly farther. That’s what we’d like to do.”
Portland finishes the regular season with five games in eight days, including matchups with the Thunder, Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers. The other two games are against Golden State and the Clippers, two of the West’s worst teams.
The Clippers (27-50) have lost five straight and 15 of their last 17.
Portland avoided a letdown against a subpar opponent with Saturday’s victory over the Kings. The Blazers rebounded from a 109-92 loss at Denver on Thursday night for their 10th victory in 12 games.
“We are playing good basketball and trying to do everything we can to move up,” All-Star guard Brandon Roy(notes) said. “Teams ahead of us are winning games, too, but we can only control what we can. We’re just going to go one game at a time.”
Roy is averaging 25.4 points over his last seven road games, and Portland has won 10 of its last 14 away from the Rose Garden.
Blazers center Marcus Camby(notes), who had 15 rebounds at Sacramento, is facing his former team for the first time since a Feb. 16 trade that sent Steve Blake(notes) and Travis Outlaw(notes) to the Clippers. Camby was traded to Los Angeles from Denver prior to the 2008-09 season.
While Camby has given Portland much-needed help in the paint, the loss of Blake has hurt its depth. The Blazers got seven points on 3-for-14 shooting from their reserves versus the Kings.
“We are still going to need our bench,” Roy said. “We are going to need them if we are going to make a run for the playoffs.”
Los Angeles’ starters committed 14 of the team’s 18 turnovers in a 113-107 loss to New York on Sunday night, snapping a 10-game home winning streak against the Knicks. The Clippers have reached 50 losses for the third straight season and 18th time since the franchise moved from San Diego for the 1984-85 season.
“We just need to play as hard as we possibly can,” center DeAndre Jordan(notes) said. “Just like last year, we’re still trying to learn each other. We just need to come out here and get as many wins as we can as the season ends.”
Baron Davis(notes) returned Sunday after missing three games due to a back injury, posting 23 points and 11 assists. The veteran point guard was held to six points on 3-of-11 shooting in a 109-87 loss to Portland on Feb. 16.
The Blazers lead the season series 2-1.