Aldridge, Blazers top Pelicans to clinch playoffs
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and 18 rebounds and the Portland Trail Blazers clinched their first playoff appearance in three seasons with a 100-94 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night.
Wesley Matthews added 21 points, Damian Lillard 20 and Nicolas Batum had 16 points and 12 rebounds for Portland (50-28). The Blazers are in fifth place in the Western Conference with four games remaining.
Memphis' loss to San Antonio earlier in the evening cleared the way for Portland to clinch. It appeared the Trail Blazers might fumble the chance when New Orleans took a 10-point second quarter lead. But the Blazers blew past the Pelicans with a 25-6 third quarter run and never trailed again.
New Orleans got within 97-94 with 35.9 seconds left when Morrow nailed a jumper, but Lillard scored on a driving layup on the other end and then made one of two free throws.
Portland had won four in a row before running out of gas in Phoenix on Friday, losing 109-93 to the Suns.
The Pelicans, last in the Southwest Division and out of the playoff race, have lost five straight games.
Davis started the game despite back spasms that kept him out of the long stretches of the past two games. He limited Aldridge to 6-of-16 shooting in the first half.
Davis had 11 points in the first quarter, but the Pelicans went on a run with their All-Star on the bench in the second, going up 39-29 as reserve big men Al-Farouq Aminu and Alexis Ajinca combined for 10 points in a 14-4 run. Portland trailed 55-48 at the half.
The Blazers picked up the pace in the third, as Aldridge regained his shot and Lillard, Matthews and Batum each scored in transition. Portland led 77-67 just before the end of the third.
NOTES: Portland's last playoff appearance was in 2010-11, when the Blazers lost a first-round matchup to the Dallas Mavericks in six games. . New Orleans G Eric Gordon missed his ninth straight game with knee tendinitis, and is not with the team after traveling to Los Angeles for a medical examination. . The Pelicans are 12-27 on the road this season. Their last win in Portland was in 2010.