Pelicans fall at Trail Blazers, who clinch playoff berth

PORTLAND, Ore. — LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and 18 rebounds, and the Portland Trail Blazers clinched their first playoff appearance in three seasons with a 100-94 win over the Pelicans on Sunday night.

Wesley Matthews added 21 points, Damian Lillard 20 and Nicolas Batum 16 points and 12 rebounds for Portland (50-28). The Blazers are fifth in the Western Conference with four games remaining.

Reserve Anthony Morrow had 17, and Anthony Davis had 15 points on 6-of-18 shooting for the Pelicans, who have lost five in a row.

Davis started the game despite back spasms that kept him out of long stretches of the past two games. He limited Aldridge to 6-of-16 shooting in the first half.

“He’s sore,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said of Davis. “I tried to get him out of the game because he’s looking like that, and then as I soon I go to sub him, he’s like, ‘No, I’m good, Coach. I’m good.’ ... He doesn’t want to let anybody down, but if he doesn’t start to look better in the next couple of days … we’ve got to make a decision on him going forward.”

Davis deferred to his coach when asked about the possibility of sitting out games the rest of the way.

“I know he has my best interest for me,” he said. “Of course, I want to play. I love being on the floor with those guys. We have to see how it is — day to day.”

Memphis’ loss to San Antonio earlier in the evening cleared the way for Portland to clinch. It appeared the Trail Blazers might fumble the chance when New Orleans took a 10-point second-quarter lead. But the Blazers blew past the Pelicans with a 25-6 third-quarter run.

“They made runs — that’s what they do,” said Morrow, who is averaging 19.4 points in his past seven games. “We know when this team is at home, they are going to make runs (and) they are going to hit shots.”

New Orleans got within 97-94 with 35.9 seconds left when Morrow nailed a jumper, but Lillard scored on a driving layup on the other end and then made 1 of 2 free throws.

Portland had won four in a row before running out of gas in Phoenix on Friday, losing 109-93 to the Suns.

Davis had 11 points in the first quarter, but the Pelicans went on a run with their All-Star on the bench in the second, going up 39-29 as reserve big men Al-Farouq Aminu and Alexis Ajinca combined for 10 points in a 14-4 run. Portland trailed 55-48 at halftime.

The Blazers picked up the pace in the third as Aldridge regained his shot and Lillard, Matthews and Batum scored in transition. Portland led 77-67 just before the end of the third.

“Poor defensive execution and our offense kind of led to that,” Williams said. “We took some really tough shots and turned the ball over a number of times, trying to dribble into traffic. ... Make no mistake: They capitalized on our mistakes, but we did not play well after having a seven-point lead at half. We came out in the third quarter and just didn’t have our best stuff.”

NOTES: The Pelicans host Phoenix at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Smoothie King Center before heading to Oklahoma City and Houston on Friday and Saturday. ... Pelicans guard Eric Gordon missed his ninth straight game with knee tendinitis and is not with the team after traveling to Los Angeles for a medical examination. ... The Pelicans are 12-27 on the road. Their most recent win in Portland came in 2010.