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Denver at Portland

Blazers win, grab fourth seed in West; Nuggets take No. 2 seed

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PORTLAND, Ore. -- As red and silver confetti floated down form the rafters of the Rose Garden, Brandon Roy allowed himself a few moments to celebrate the Portland Trail Blazers' return to the playoffs.

Then he turned his thoughts to the Houston Rockets, the Blazers' first-round opponent.

"I'm looking at it as a challenge," he said. "But it's going to be fun."

Roy carried his toddler son around the court as the team celebrated a 104-76 victory against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night that clinched home-court advantage for Portland in the first round of the playoffs.

The Blazers, who haven't been to the postseason since 2002-03, will face Houston as the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference.

The Nuggets, who clinched the second seed in the Western Conference, will play New Orleans.

Chauncey Billups had 13 points for the Nuggets, who finished the regular season 54-28 and tied the franchise record for wins set in 1987-88.

Portland, which led by as many as 31 points, has won six straight and also finished 54-28 in the Northwest Division. It was the best record for the Blazers since the 1999-2000 season, when they finished 59-23.

"We're peaking at the right time," center Joel Przybilla said. "We're playing our best basketball at the biggest time of the year."

Travis Outlaw came off the bench to lead Portland with 21 points. Rudy Fernandez, another sub, scored 18 points, going 6-for-9 from 3-point range. The rookie from Spain has hit 159 3-pointers, surpassing the rookie record for 3s held by Kerry Kittles (158).

"It was important. Everybody in Spain talked about the record," he said. "I think it's great a Spanish guy takes the record. It's good for the team, good for Spain and great for me."

The Nuggets landed at second in the West just before taking the court, when Dallas defeated Houston 95-84.

"It's huge," Billups said. "Our goal this season was to try to get home-court advantage in the playoffs, and we accomplished that."

The Nuggets had already claimed the Northwest Division because they held the tiebreaker over the Blazers. Denver has home-court advantage for the opening round of the playoffs for the first time in 21 years.

The Blazers' playoff opponent, the Rockets, was decided before the game when Houston lost and San Antonio defeated New Orleans. The Rockets are 2-1 against Portland this season.

The Blazers have won six straight at home, where they are among the league's best at 34-7.

Denver pulled within 23-22 on Kenyon Martin's put-back dunk at the end of the first quarter, but Portland began to pull away when Outlaw and Fernandez hit back-to-back 3-pointers.

Outlaw's pull-up jumper made it 25-22 and Portland went on to lead 53-34 at the break.

Carmelo Anthony, averaging 23 points per game for Denver, got off to a poor start and went 2-for-14 from the floor in the first half. Anthony finished with 12 points, playing 30 minutes.

The Nuggets trailed by as many as 21 in the third quarter, but Billups almost single-handedly pulled them back in it. Billups had a 3-pointer, a layup and a free throw to close Denver to within 61-54.

J.R. Smith hit a jumper that narrowed it further to 63-58.

But Denver couldn't get closer and Portland stretched it out again -- going up 80-62 after Outlaw's 3-pointer and a decisive dunk.

Shortly thereafter Denver coach George Karl began to pull his starters.

"It was a weird game for us," Karl said. "Too much thinking and not enough playing."

Notes

  • French rookie Nicolas Batum was back in Portland's starting lineup after missing a game because of the flu.
  • Blazers center Joel Przybilla played in all 82 regular-season games. For Denver, Linas Kleiza appeared in all 82.
  • The Blazers scheduled a rally for Thursday in downtown Portland to celebrate the team's return to the playoffs.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Kenyon Martin eases Joel Przybilla as the Blazers win, yet finish below Martin's Nuggets. (Getty Images)
Kenyon Martin eases Joel Przybilla as the Blazers win, yet finish below Martin's Nuggets. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
Denver (54-28) 2212261676
Portland (54-28) «23301833104
DEN:C. Billups 13 Pts
DEN:Nene 9 Reb
DEN:C. Billups 4 Ast
POR:T. Outlaw 21 Pts
POR:J. Przybilla 8 Reb
POR:S. Rodriguez 12 Ast
Players of the Game
PortlandDenver

T. Outlaw

C. Billups
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
21301334
Denver
C. Billups, PG334-103-334013
Nene, PF305-90-091110
C. Anthony, SF303-186-661312
K. Martin, PF284-62-260410
D. Jones, SG202-80-02034
L. Kleiza, SF244-101-120310
J. Smith, SG212-70-02115
C. Andersen, PF201-32-24024
A. Carter, PG181-60-03023
R. Balkman, PF71-30-00002
J. Hart, PG51-10-00112
J. Petro, C50-21-23101
S. Hunter, PFDid Not Play
S. Weems, SGDid Not Play
Totals 28-8315-164092076
 33.7%93.8% 
Portland
L. Aldridge, PF314-100-05408
S. Blake, PG303-72-24419
B. Roy, SG232-72-25316
J. Przybilla, C223-40-08026
N. Batum, SF151-40-05023
R. Fernandez, SG266-90-032418
T. Outlaw, SF257-94-630321
G. Oden, C203-64-640210
S. Rodriguez, PG183-60-011227
C. Frye, PF175-71-243212
J. Bayless, PG62-40-02104
M. Ruffin, C50-10-01000
R. LaFrentz, PFDid Not Play
M. Webster, SGDid Not Play
S. Randolph, PFDid Not Play
Totals 39-7413-18452919104
 52.7%72.2% 
Other Games
Wash 107 Final
Bos 115
Tor 109 Final
Chi 98
Phi 111 Final
Cle 110
Hou 84 Final
Dal 95
Mil 108 Final
Ind 115
Det 96 Final
Mia 102
Sac 97 Final
Min 90
NJ 73 Final
NY 102
Char 73 Final
Orl 98
NO 98 Final
SA 105
Atl 90 Final
Mem 98
OKC 126 Final
LAC 85
GS 113 Final
Pho 117