for this game

Blazers move up in West with win over Clippers

Apr 8, 2010 - 5:55 AM By GREG BEACHAM AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES(AP) -- Even after the Portland Trail Blazers moved up two spots in the Western Conference playoff picture with a single victory, LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy claimed they don't care who they'll face in the first round of the playoffs.

After all, the way they're finishing the regular season, it's clear the Blazers could be big trouble for anybody.

Aldridge had 27 points and 12 rebounds, Roy added 23 points and the Blazers ascended to sixth place in the playoff standings with a 93-85 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night.

Andre Miller scored 13 points for the Blazers, who began the night in eighth place before their 11th win in 13 games. After holding off the Clippers' late rally, Portland improved to 48-30, pulling even with Oklahoma City and San Antonio, which both lost.

"We feel like if we finish out strong, we could easily go to sixth," Aldridge said. "But it doesn't really matter. Every series is going to be hard, but you have to finish strong for your own sake, not for who you play."

The Blazers already know they're headed back to the playoffs for the second straight season after a five-year absence, but Roy doesn't think his teammates are looking ahead.

"All we'll do is keep playing, and when the official standings come out, we'll figure out what we have to do," Roy said. "You can't be worried about where you match up or who you want to play."

Aldridge missed practice Tuesday with a sinus infection, but played with a clear head against the Clippers, scoring from everywhere on the court against a succession of defenders. Roy missed Portland's last two workouts with a sore back, but he kept the Blazers rolling early before scoring just two fourth-quarter points.

With five games in eight days to close the regular season, Portland let the easiest matchup get far too interesting. The Blazers managed just 16 points and didn't shoot a free throw in the fourth quarter, but Juwan Howard and Miller had big baskets in the final 90 seconds of their 16th win in 20 games.

Although just three games separate second place from eighth in the West playoff standings, Portland coach Nate McMillan said he isn't rushing off the court every night to check the standings. He's well aware of the Blazers' need for a strong finish to avoid facing the Lakers in the first round, although the defending champions aren't playing nearly as well as the four teams below them in the standings.

Marcus Camby had two points and nine rebounds for the Blazers before straining his right hamstring in the second half of the former Clippers shot-blocker's first game back in Los Angeles. Camby said he only sat out as a precaution, and he plans to practice Thursday.

"I got a chance to see my kids, see my wife, so it feels pretty good," Camby said. "It feels really good to be headed to the playoffs. After two years off, it feels good. It doesn't matter who we play. We can compete."

Camby's work ethic and leadership were among the season's few sources of warmth for the Clippers, and the veteran got a warm reception from Clippers fans before the game. General manager Mike Dunleavy traded him to Portland on Feb. 16 in a deal generally thought to be remarkably one-sided for the Blazers. Dunleavy was fired three weeks later.

"He's doing great, and I'm really happy that he's on a playoff team," Clippers center DeAndre Jordan said. "He deserves it. We competed for two years in practice, so we talked trash and we knew it was going to be a competitive game. We had fun."

Steve Blake, who was traded for Camby in February, had 14 points and six assists while leading the Clippers' fourth-quarter rally. Los Angeles trailed by 21 points early in the fourth before falling short in its sixth consecutive loss.

Chris Kaman and Rasual Butler also scored 14 points for Los Angeles, which trimmed the Blazers' lead to eight points in the final three minutes before losing for the 16th time in 18 games.

"We missed a myriad of open shots and layups in the fourth quarter that really hurt us," Clippers interim coach Kim Hughes said. "We made a run, and I felt pretty good about our chances, but we just couldn't make shots down the stretch."

Portland scored 10 straight points midway through the third quarter to take a 71-54 lead, and led 81-60 early in the fourth quarter. Led by Butler and Blake, Los Angeles made runs of 13-2 and 8-2 to get within 89-81.

NOTES: Clippers F Travis Outlaw, who arrived along with Blake in the deal for Camby, missed his second straight game with a strained right groin. ... Portland has won 11 of its last 15 road games. ... The Blazers will be back at Staples Center on Sunday to face the Lakers.

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    MattDOOM777 Added 5 roots

    Trail Blazers 93, Clippers 85  FinalApr 8 7:47 AM

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    --- --- --- --- -----
    PORTLAND 27 23 27 16 93
    LA CLIPPERS 18 28 14 25 85 FINAL


    Apr 8 12:45 AM

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    Apr 8 12:18 AM

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