NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, April 14th (All times Eastern)
Portland Trail Blazers (33-46) at Denver Nuggets (54-25), 5 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Denver Nuggets will try to hang on to their standing in the Western Conference playoffs Sunday evening when they host the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Nuggets stand third in the Western Conference, but are just one-half game ahead of both the Memphis Grizzlies and the Pacific Division champion Los Angeles Clippers.
Aside from the impact in postseason seeding, one more victory will give this group the Nuggets' team record for wins in a season.
"All that counts to me is playoffs," said forward Kenneth Faried. "When we make the noise there, then we'll get respect we deserve. We can win however many games we want - we can win all 82 - and if we get (knocked) out the first round of the playoffs, it's just a waste of time."
Denver had a five-game winning streak snapped on Friday with a 108-105 overtime road loss at the Dallas Mavericks.
Wilson Chandler, Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer shared high-scorer honors against the Mavs with 18 points apiece. Faried had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Ty Lawson returned for the first time in two weeks Friday and netted 13 points in 19 minutes off the bench. He had been sidelined with a plantar fascia tear.
"I actually thought he was very good," head coach George Karl said. "I thought when he was on the court, he was one of the top couple players on the court. I think we all feel if he would've played 30 minutes, we probably would've won. That's just the nature of injuries that you have to live with."
According to the Denver website, the plan is to get Lawson 25-30 minutes over the final three regular-season games. The Nuggets visit the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, then close out the campaign at home, where they are a league-best 36-3, versus the Phoenix Suns.
The Blazers are struggling badly to end the season. They've dropped 10 in a row and have a road meeting with the Los Angeles Clippers and home date with the Golden State Warriors left on the docket.
On Friday, the Oklahoma City Thunder came to Rose City and ran over the Blazers in the third quarter. OKC outscored Portland, 26-7, in the third and left with a 106-90 victory.
"The third quarter, our offense just ground down," said Portland coach Terry Stotts. "We stopped moving the ball. We didn't create shots for each other and we were loose with the turnovers. It was a bad combination. You get down and it was too big of a hole after that third quarter."
Will Barton, who is playing in place of Wesley Matthews, who is listed as questionable against the Nuggets with a right ankle issue, led the way with 18 points. Four other Blazers scored in double figures.
Starting forward Niclas Batum will miss the Denver game with a right shoulder injury.
The Nuggets have taken two of three this season against the Blazers and Portland has lost eight straight in the Mile High City.
04/14 10:21:27 ET