Blazers want winning record, but they'll have to get it without Lillard, McCollum

PORTLAND, Ore. -- It looks like Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum won't get their wish.

Both Lillard and McCollum, who sat out the second-to-last game of the season Monday night against the Spurs, primarily for rest, said they planned on playing Wednesday night, when the Blazers end the regular season against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Moda Center.

New Orleans Pelicans (33-48) at Portland Trail Blazers (41-40)

7:30 p.m., KGW, ESPN, 620 AM

"I plan to play. I want to get in a game to get back into rhythm before the playoffs start," Lillard said.

Said McCollum: "My intentions are to play Wednesday."

But the injury report released Wednesday morning listed Lillard and McCollum as out for the game, meaning the Blazers are choosing rest for their two stars. Blazers guard Allen Crabbe was also listed as out.

On Tuesday, Blazers coach Terry Stotts said he was wrestling with the decision of whether to sit or play his two stars.

"It's a tough balance. Having a week off worked pretty well at All-Star break. That’s a consideration," he said, referring to improved play by Lillard and the Blazers after the All-Star break. "What's the expression? Rest and rust? I don't know. We'll see in Game 1 (of the playoff series against the Warriors) if we chose correctly."

The Blazers (41-40) secured at least a .500 record with Monday's 99-98 win against the Spurs, but they'll be shooting for a winning regular-season record on Wednesday night.

That's something I've wanted to do and Dame and I discussed it at the All-Star break. I actually had the calculation of how many games we had to win to finish over .500. I would love to finish over .500. -- Blazers guard CJ McCollum

Stotts and McCollum both spoke at Tuesday's shootaround about the importance of a winning record to the team.

"I remember when I was coaching in Milwaukee, we made the playoffs with a 40-42 record (in 2005-06)," Stotts said. "That always kind of stuck with me. It's always better to go into the postseason with a winning record."

McCollum said getting the Blazers back to a winning record before the end of the season is something he and Lillard have been talking about since February.

"That's something I've wanted to do and Dame and I discussed it at the All-Star break," McCollum said at Tuesday's shootaround at the Moda Center. "I actually had the calculation of how many games we had to win to finish over .500. I would love to finish over .500, but at the end of the day, I know we're going to be at .500, so that's comforting to know that four years into my career, I've never been under .500 and I've made the playoffs every year."

Portland's pursuit of a winning record could be eased by the Pelicans (33-48), who have lost five in a row and will be playing without All-Stars Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.

"These last few games offer a chance for us to get longer looks at our younger players," New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said.

The rest might be good for Lillard, who has been dealing with some pain in his right foot. He said it was smart to sit out the game against the Spurs and not re-aggravate the injury.

Crabbe, Portland's reserve guard who ranks third in the NBA in 3-point shooting, sat out the past two games to rest a sore left foot. He has been walking in a boot but said he intends to be ready for the opener of Portland's first-round playoff series against Golden State. contributed to this article.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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