Jackson helps Warriors hang onto eighth place in WestMar 28, 2008 - 6:18 AM By Ryan Leong PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- The Golden State Warriors used a team effort to hold onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Stephen Jackson scored 24 points to lead six players in double figures as the Warriors claimed a 111-95 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.
Monta Ellis had 18 points and 10 rebounds while Kelenna Azubuike contributed 14 and five off the bench for Golden State (44-27), which remained one-half game in front of the Denver Nuggets (44-28) for eighth place in the West.
"This is what playoff basketball is all about," said Warriors guard Baron Davis, who played only 27 minutes due to flu-like symptoms. "We've got to come with it and there's no night off from here on out. We played well enough to get a nice cushion tonight and we've got a tough one coming up on Saturday and Sunday."
LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed Tuesday's game against the Washington Wizards with a sprained right ankle scored 17 points for the Trail Blazers. However, Portland was again without All-Star Brandon Roy, who is expected to miss at least three more games with a strained right groin.
"If this is the eighth seed and they beat us this bad tonight, going forward and when we're trying to get into the playoffs, if the eighth seed is this good, imagine how good the No. 1 or No. 2 seed is," Aldridge said. "So it shows us to be in that playoff race and to be in the playoffs, you've got to be a good team that executes down the stretch."
Steve Blake led Portland with 22 points but it wasn't enough to prevent the Blazers from falling to 13-25 on the road this season.
The Warriors trailed, 52-51, entering halftime but quickly seized the advantage after the break.
Ellis started out the third with a fast-break reverse layup, shifting the momentum to the Warriors. However, the Blazers continued to battle, tying the score 59-59 with 8:59 left in the third quarter.
The Warriors took control of the game from there, putting together a 17-5 run over the next 3:34 to forge a 12-point lead following a 3-pointer and two free throws by Matt Barnes and one foul shot from Azubuike with 5:25 remaining in the quarter.
"All we care about is the end result and we got a good one," Golden State coach Don Nelson said. "I didn't like our start but I had enough guys play well that we won a game that we were supposed to win."
Portland briefly narrowed the lead to nine but Jackson scored nine points over the final five minutes of the period as the Warriors lead ballooned to 91-72 entering the final frame. Golden State finished with 40 points in the third.
"We learned that we've got a ways to go and for all that we have done this season, we've still got a ways to go," Portland coach Nate McMillan said.
After the Blazers took a 26-12 lead in the first quarter, the Warriors outscored them, 79-46, en route to their 19-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
"We were a little flat but we found a way to win," Jackson said. "We got it going in the second half. We can't play like that on the road, though. We've got some good teams coming up so I'm glad we got the kinks out tonight and hopefully we'll be ready against Denver (Saturday)."
The Warriors closed the first period with a 10-4 run, highlighted by one of Jackson's four 3-pointers, to cut the lead to 30-28.
Golden State continued to chip away at the deficit and eventually took the lead, 44-42, with 3:44 remaining on a 3-pointer by Al Harrington from the baseline.
The lead was short-lived, though, as Blake answered with eight points in the final minutes of the second to give Portland a one-point lead at halftime.
GOLDEN STATE 111 FINAL
Mar 28 1:10 AM
GOLDEN STATE 91 END, 3RD QTR
Mar 28 12:37 AM
GOLDEN STATE 51 HALFTIME
Mar 27 11:45 PM
GOLDEN STATE 22 END, 1ST QTR
Mar 27 11:14 PM
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