Blazers lose Batum (right knee), McCollum (left ankle) in first half vs. Thunder

The Portland Trail Blazers are locked into the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, are assured of having to open the first round of the playoffs on the road since their opponent will end the season with a superior record, have already lost three wings to injury and entered Monday night without All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who's nursing a sprained left foot. With no chance to improve their seeding and just two games left in the regular season, at this point, Blazers fans were just hoping that what remains of the team to make it to the playoffs in one piece.

Unfortunately, as Blazers fans know as well as anyone, you don't always get what you hope for. Two more starters — small forward Nicolas Batum and shooting guard C.J. McCollum, whom coach Terry Stotts slid into the starting lineup after losing Arron Afflalo, to whom Stotts turned after losing Wesley Matthews — went down in the first half of Monday's meeting with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Batum suffered a right knee injury with just over a minute and a half remaining in the opening quarter. The veteran swingman and teammate Joel Freeland both jumped to try to collect a rebound of a missed 3-point shot by Oklahoma City guard Dion Waiters:

As Batum came down, he landed awkwardly on his right foot, seeming to stick in place as he landed, shaking and falling forward, putting his hands out to brace himself against the hardwood. He did not join his teammates in the frontcourt on offense, leaving him as the lone line of defense after Waiters picked the pocket of Portland reserve point guard Tim Frazier and drove to the basket. Batum just got his body in Waiters' way, taking the foul so he could get himself off the court and to the sideline, where he was met by a pair of athletic trainers, who helped him to the back.

Batum, who was already dealing with a sore back, finished with one point and one rebound in 10 1/2 minutes.

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McCollum's injury came just before intermission, after an Enes Kanter putback of a Russell Westbrook miss gave Oklahoma City a seven-point lead in a must-win game to keep pace with the New Orleans Pelicans in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference:

As McCollum broke toward the ball to take the inbounds pass, Westbrook stepped into his path. McCollum tried to elude Westbrook, but he stepped awkwardly as he planted his left foot, tumbling to the ground. He got up and limped as quickly as he could off to the sideline, but was clearly in pain and couldn't quite get comfortable in his gait again.

He finished with four points on 2-for-8 shooting, four assists, two rebounds and a block in 20 minutes of work.

The loss of two rotation wings left Stotts with just eight healthy bodies for the balance of Monday's game, which was not exactly ideal for matching up with the desperate Thunder on the road. Oklahoma City came away with a 101-90 win behind 36 points (13-for-27 shooting, 2-for-5 from 3-point land, 8-for-8 at the foul line) from All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook.

The dynamic playmaker also added 11 rebounds, seven assists and two steals in 38 minutes of work, making the most of the second chance that the NBA afforded him by rescinding the technical foul he received in Sunday's loss to the Indiana Pacers. Had the call stood up, Westbrook would have been suspended for Monday's game. Because it didn't, Oklahoma City lives to fight another day, keeping its record even with the also victorious New Orleans Pelicans.

The Pelicans own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Thunder, meaning that if the two teams finish with the same record, New Orleans will be in the playoffs. If New Orleans loses to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, though, and Oklahoma City can beat the Minnesota Timberwolves, then the Thunder will return to the postseason for the sixth straight season.

Ultimately, though, Monday's outcome didn't really mean too much to Portland. What matters most will be the follow-up evaluations on Tuesday. Should either Batum or McCollum (or, gulp, both) wind up having injuries that linger on, the wounded Blazers' already tall task of toppling whichever team finishes fifth without home-court advantage will become even more challenging.

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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