Blazers wrap up remarkable season, prepare for Suns

PORTLAND — Yes, it was special.

Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan said he could not deny that there was something undeniably unique and unforgettable about his team’s 2009-10 regular season.

The Blazers missed 311 games due to injury; they lost centers Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla to season-ending injuries; and even McMillan went down with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

But Portland pounded through it all. And after 82 regular-season games, the resilient, team-first Blazers came very close to matching their magical 2008-09 campaign.

Portland still made the playoffs, earning the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. And the team finished just four wins off its victory total from last season, despite falling to the Golden State Warriors, 122-116, Wednesday night at the Rose Garden before a sellout crowd of 20,482.

“For us, it was about seeing how far we could advance as far as what seed we could get,” McMillan said. “For this team to finish sixth in the West with everything they’ve gone through, they’ve had a good year. They’ve overcome a lot of things.”

The contest marked the regular-season finale for both teams.

But Portland’s thrilling season is not over. The Blazers (50-32) will face the No. 3 Phoenix Suns in a first-round best-of-seven Western Conference playoff series. Game 1 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Phoenix (KGW/TNT), while Portland’s first home contest is set for 7 p.m. April 22 at the Rose Garden.

“It’s like a new season; a new level of basketball right here,” Blazers forward Martell Webster said. “The sense of urgency is crazy, and the atmosphere is going to be crazy.”

Blazers All-Star guard Brandon Roy, who is dealing with a slightly torn right meniscus, is listed as doubtful for the matchup. But Roy said before Friday’s tipoff he is going to do everything he can to take the court.

Whether Roy plays or not, McMillan believes Portland can overcome the Suns and advance to the second round.

“We’ve got a good chance,” McMillan said. “They’re a good team; we know that. We’ve had success against them, but they’re probably were one of the hottest team — if not the hottest team — the last part of the season. So, we certainly know what they’re capable of doing, and the style of basketball that they want to play. It’s going to be a battle of the tempos.”

Rookie forward Jeff Pendergraph scored a career-high 23 points on 11-of-15 shooting to lead the Blazers, while Webster added 18 points. Seven Portland players reached double figures in scoring, while Nicolas Batum and rookie Dante Cunningham added double-doubles.

Stephen Curry topped the Warriors (26-56) with a career-high 42 points, while Monta Ellis added 34.

Down 60-58 at halftime, the Blazers rallied behind rookies Pendergraph, Cunningham and Patty Mills.

After watching his playing time shrink to nothing while Portland’s rotation slimmed down, Pendergraph played his best game of the season. A thunderous dunk late in the third quarter said everything about the bruising forward’s powerful potential.

Portland took a 91-85 lead into the fourth quarter.

But Curry and Ellis propelled Golden State. And Curry, the increasingly smooth rookie from Davidson, iced the contest with 26 second-half points and 12-of-12 shooting from the free-throw line.

“It’s the last game of my rookie season,” Curry said. “Considering everything that’s happened this year, for us to finish it out the way we did — for it to be such a crazy game — definitely going to be one I remember.”


Cunningham was a late addition to the starting lineup, replacing Marcus Camby. … Portland began the game with a completely different starting lineup than the one it used in its season-opener. Steve Blake, Brandon Roy, Martell Webster, LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden were the first to take the court Oct. 27 in a home victory over Houston. … Blazer playoff tickets go on sale at 2 p.m. today via A 9 a.m presale will be held for season-ticket holders.


Blazers vs. Suns


Radio: 95.5 FM

Probable Starters

Blazers (50-32)

Position/player Ht. Pts.

G Andre Miller 6-2 14.1

G Rudy Fernandez 6-6 8.1

F Nicolas Batum 6-8 10.1

F Lamarcus Aldridge 6-11 17.9

C Marcus Camby 6-11 7.0

Suns (54-28)

G Steve Nash 6-3 16.6

G Jason Richardson 6-6 15.7

F Grant Hill 6-8 11.3

F Amare Stoudemire 6-10 23.2

C Jarron Collins 6-11 1.0

Blazers-Suns this season

Date Score Venue

Dec. 17 Blazers, 105-102 Home

Feb. 10 Blazers, 108-101 Away

March 21 Suns, 93-87 Away

Last season: Portland fell to the Houston Rockets, 4-2, in a first-round series.

Official schedule

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Phoenix Suns, first-round best-of-seven Western Conference playoff series

Date Time Home TV

Game 1 Sunday 7:30 p.m. @Phoenix KGW/TNT

Game 2 April 20 7 p.m. @Phoenix KGW/NBA TV

Game 3 April 22 7 p.m. @Portland KGW/NBA TV

Game 4 April 24 1:30 p.m. @Portland KGW/TNT

Game 5 April 26 TBD @Phoenix TBD

Game 6 April 29 TBD @Portland TBD

Game 7 May 1 TBD @Phoneix TBD

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