Warriors close out Smart’s first season with winThursday, Apr 14, 2011
On one hand, Aldridge is going home to where he was born and attended college. On the other, the Trail Blazers will face a Mavericks team that finished with 57 wins, tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for second-most in the Western Conference.
“It means the family, my mom, can come to the game,” said Aldridge, who didn’t play in Portland’s 110-86 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the regular-season finale Wednesday night. “It means a lot sentimental-wise. But it’s not like, ‘Oh thank you, we’ve got Dallas.’ It’s going to be a tough task.”
The Blazers secured the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference on Tuesday night with a victory over Memphis. That gave coach Nate McMillan a chance to rest Aldridge and fellow starters Marcus Camby(notes), Nicholas Batum and Gerald Wallace(notes) before opening the postseason at Dallas.
The outcome wasn’t all that surprising for a Portland team with nothing on the line.
“We were able to sit some guys out that have injuries or soreness,” McMillan said. “Now we can get prepared for who we are going to face this weekend. The important thing tonight was for (the reserves) to go out and play hard and get some time out on the floor.”
With the bench logging most of the minutes, the Blazers fell behind early and couldn’t recover.
Afterward, Aldridge joined his teammates in the locker room to watch the final minutes of the Lakers’ overtime win against Sacramento. A Los Angeles loss would have sent Portland to Southern California to open the playoffs instead of to Dallas.
The Blazers and Mavs split their season series 2-2 this year.
“It’s going to be tough,” Aldridge said. “They’ve been to the Finals before, a few years back, but they have a really, really good team. They were one of the hottest teams in the NBA this year so it’s going to be a really tough task to go in there and beat them.”
Smart, who replaced Don Nelson before the season, led Golden State to a 36-46 record. That was a 10-game turnaround from 2010 but the team still missed the playoffs for the 16th time in 17 seasons and Smart’s future is uncertain under new owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber.
“This is my home, so I’m here no matter what,” Smart said. “My family already told me I can go anywhere I want but they’re staying. My focus is on the team, moving forward with the idea that I’m directing this team. That’s how I’m going to play it out.”
Even without leading scorer Monta Ellis(notes), who sat out his second consecutive game with a Grade 2 concussion, the Warriors had it easy while winning their third straight against Portland this season.
Golden State even made a little history along the way.
Wright, who signed a three-year deal with the Warriors last July after five years with Miami, finished the season with 1,344 points, 10 more than the total he had in his previous six seasons combined. In doing so, Wright—the league’s leading 3-point shooter going into the night—became the first player in NBA history to accomplish that feat according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“It’s been great,” Wright said. “All the records are pretty sweet but you know my teammates, if it wasn’t for those guys, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now.”
The Warriors jumped out to a 12-point lead in the first quarter, led by as much as 24 in the second half then held on to snap Portland’s three-game winning streak.
The Blazers lost for just the third time in their last nine games, a stretch that included victories over playoff-bound San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Dallas and the Lakers.
NOTES: The game was a sellout, Golden State’s 13th of the season. … Curry set a franchise record for free throw percentage (92.6), breaking Hall of Famer Rick Barry’s mark of 92.4 percent set in 1977-78. … Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson and former safety Eddie Anderson sat courtside. … Ellis dressed for the game and sat on the bench in the first half but did not come out after halftime.