Aldridge, Blazers down Pelicans
Portland, OR (SportsNetwork.com) - LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks and the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans, 100-94, to secure their first playoff berth in three seasons on Sunday night.
Wesley Matthews netted 21 points, Damian Lillard tallied 20 points, six rebounds and five assists and Nicolas Batum added 16 points and 12 boards for Portland, which has won five of its last six games on the heels of a three- game slide.
"We were happy for about five minutes," Batum said Portland making the playoffs. "But we have four more games and then the playoffs start."
The Blazers remained 1 1/2 games ahead of the Golden State Warriors for the fifth seed in the Western Conference and two behind the Houston Rockets for the fourth spot.
Anthony Morrow scored 17 points off the bench to lead the Pelicans, who have dropped five in a row.
"We came out in the third quarter and didn't have our best stuff," Pelicans head coach Monty Williams said.
The Pelicans led 55-48 at the break and 63-57 midway through the third following a Greg Stiemsma putback dunk before the Blazers roared in front via a 20-2 run.
Lillard and Batum had six points apiece during the surge, which Lillard capped with a dunk for a 77-65 Portland advantage late in the frame.
The Blazers took a 77-69 cushion into the fourth.
Tyreke Evans drove in for a layup before Austin Rivers nailed a triple and converted a layup to pull New Orleans within 96-92 with 1:14 left. Morrow's jumper whittled the gap to 97-94 with 35.9 ticks on the clock, but Lillard answered with a layup at the other end.
Brian Roberts and Morrow were then unable to hit on 3-pointers for New Orleans to seal the outcome.
Earlier, the game was tied 25-25 after a quarter of play and New Orleans held a 55-48 advantage into the break.
The Blazers shot 47.1 percent (41-of-87) from the floor and 22.7 percent (5- of-22) from beyond the arc ... Portland outrebounded New Orleans, 50-36 ... The Pelicans shot 42.2 percent (38-of-90) from the field.
04/07 00:56:31 ET