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two goals and seven assists.
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The Trail Blazers already knew their opponent for the first round playoffs http://www.giantsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-nate-solder-jersey , and they had already locked up home-court advantage.

But they were still inspired for their regular-season finale against the Utah Jazz.

Damian Lillard had 36 points and 10 assists and the Blazers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 102-93 victory over the Jazz Wednesday night to earn the Northwest Division title.

With the win in the regular-season finale, Portland claimed the third seed in the Western Conference and will play the sixth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans in the opening round.

”One game and we’re playing for the third spot and the division championship,” Lillard said about the team’s motivation against the Jazz. ”And that’s something to be proud of it. That’s something to care about and to play for. We worked too hard not to go and get that, especially on our home floor.”

The Jazz, who saw a six-game winning streak snapped, fell to the fifth seed. They’ll face No. 4 Oklahoma City on the road to open the playoffs. The schedule had not been set.

Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell, who the night before set the new single-season record for 3-pointers with 186 – breaking Lillard’s rookie mark – was 1-for-8 from the perimeter but finished with 17 points.

Ricky Rubio also had 17 while Rudy Gobert had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Jazz, who were coming off a 119-79 victory at home against the Warriors on Tuesday night.

”We rushed a little bit. We weren’t all on the same page at times,” Mitchell said. ”We were really taken off our course. When they get into you, you gotta get the guy off you and make the play. Over time that really disrupts you.”

CJ McCollum had 19 points for the Blazers, who led by as many as 24 points in the second half.

For both teams http://www.billsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-marshall-newhouse-jersey , the game was all about seeding because the first-round playoff matches were determined earlier in the evening. The Blazers secured home-court advantage for the first round for the first time since 2009.

Before the game Terry Stotts said the outcome of the Pelicans’ finale against the Spurs was unlikely to have an impact on how Portland approached the Jazz. New Orleans won 112-98.

”Like I told the team, winning the division is a big deal. It’s always going to be there. It’s always going to be in the rafters, the banner will be up in the practice facility,” Stotts said afterward. ”It’s been an up and down season, but I’m really pleased with the way we played tonight. We played well, and have some momentum going into the playoffs.”

Dante Exum, who left Utah’s victory against the Warriors the night before with leg soreness, played for 20 minutes with six points.

The Blazers went up 39-27 on McCollum’s reverse layup in the second quarter and led by as many as 16 points in the first half. Portland led 55-41 at the break and Lillard led all scorers with 19 points.

No Jazz player was in double figures. Mitchell struggled in the first half, going 3-for-13 from the field.

McCollum wrestled a rebound and got the jumper from close in to give the Blazers a 67-50 lead. Lillard’s layup ended the third quarter with Portland 80-59.

Portland extended the lead to as many as 24 points, but the Jazz closed with within 85-74 with 7:39 left on Mitchell’s layup and a free throw. Lillard came back in the game and made three jumpers to push Portland’s lead to 91-76.

”This group’s had an excellent season. They year isn’t over,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. ”We have a chance to play in the post-season. That’s something that these guys have accomplished.”

TIP INS:

Jazz: Derrick Favors played in his 500th game with the Jazz. He’s the 12th player in franchise history to reach the milestone. … It was Gobert’s 31st double-double of the season.

Trail Blazers: Maurice Harkless told reporters before the game that it was unclear if he’d be able to return in the first round. Harkless had arthroscopy on his left knee on March 28. … Evan Turner won the team’s Maurice Lucas Award as the player who best represents Lucas’ spirit in his contributions off and on the court.

FOCUSING ON THE OPPONENT: Both teams were already talking about the first-round matchups.

”It’s just a different style of basketball going into the playoffs Cheap Lamar Jackson Jersey , especially with that team (the Thunder),” Derrick Favors said. We just know it’s something we’ve got to be prepared for, be ready for. We’ve got to be mentally strong going in and just be ready to play, but also have fun and enjoy it.”

Lillard noted that Portland split the regular season series with the Pelicans.

”They stole one from us here, and we felt like that was a game that we should have had. We had a bad third quarter,” Lillard said. ”But they have Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Rondo, E’Twaun Moore, they’ve got a lot of guys that make them a dangerous team.”

James Reimer has been coming up big for the surging Panthers the last six weeks. His latest effort was his second shutout this month and it helped Florida move closer to a playoff spot.

Reimer stopped 32 shots for his fifth straight win as the Panthers beat the reeling New York Islanders 3-0 Monday night.

”I just tried to be big in there and try to read the puck as best as I could and be on it,” Reimer said. ”And then rely on your D-men to clear any garbage Bills Josh Allen Jersey , and they did a great job.”

It was the backup goalie’s fourth shutout this season and 21st of his career, improving his record to 7-1-0 since returning from an injury Feb. 12.

”Reims has answered the bell every time,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. ”This is the part of the season you need guys stepping up and he’s been one of our guys that’s stepped up for us. … His preparation is real good and you can see he was focused right from the drop of the puck tonight, made some big saves.”

Evgenii Dadonov and Keith Yandle each had a goal and an assist, and Nick Bjugstad also scored to help Florida win for the 13th time in 17 games (13-3-1).

The Panthers moved within one point of idle New Jersey for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. They have eight games remaining, one more than the Devils, over the final 13 days of the season.

”I really haven’t been paying much attention to what’s going on with the Devils and those other teams, but obviously we know it’s tight and you can’t afford to lose at this point,” Bjugstad said. ”There’s not much breathing room here at the end of the year. … We’ve got a tough schedule coming up here, a lot of games, but it’s going to be a fun challenge.”

Christopher Gibson finished with 38 saves for the Islanders Youth Sam Darnold Jersey , who were eliminated from postseason contention for the second straight year with their 14th loss in 16 games (2-10-4).

”It’s tough,” coach Doug Weight said. ”It’s tough for us, and it’s not good enough. It’s tough for the fans, it’s tough for everybody involved. All we can say is we’re going to be better. … I think we have the ingredients and we have the drive and we’re going to work at it.”

Leading 1-0 after one period, Florida pulled away with two goals in the second while outshooting New York 19-11.

After Islanders rookie Mathew Barzal was given a double-minor for high-sticking Vincent Trochek 1:24 into the middle period, Florida took advantage just 23 seconds later. Bjugstad got a pass from Jamie McGinn, skated into the right circle and fired the puck past Gibson for his 18th goal.

Dadonov made it 3-0 at 6:09 as he sent a pass from the left side boards toward the net for a streaking Bjugstad, but the puck deflected off the skate of Islanders defenseman Brandon Davidson and past Gibson. It was Dadonov’s 24th goal of the season, and ninth goal and 21st point in his last 17 games.

The Panthers outshot the Islanders 16-10 in the first period, with both teams getting solid chances.

Gibson denied Derek MacKenzie in front 3 1/2 minutes in, and then stopped MacKenzie Weeger’s shot from the left circle and Maxim Mamim’s follow attempt on the rebound in front a little more than two minutes later.

The Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck hit a post 2 1/2 minutes in. Reimer also turned away Andrew Ladd’s tip attempt in front 4 1/2 minutes in Cecil Cooper Milwaukee Brewers Jersey , Anders Lee’s backhand two minutes later, and two tries in close by John Tavares shortly after that.

Reimer acknowledged that being in the thick of the playoff race has helped elevate his game.

”When it’s going like this you just come to the rink ready to go,” he said. ”You’re excited to play, every game means something, and those are the fun games to play.”

Yandle got the Panthers on the scoreboard with 8:22 left in the opening period as he sent a long wrist shot from between the circles in front of the blue line past Gibson’s glove side for his eighth.

NOTES: Aleksander Barkov had an assist on Yandle’s goal, giving him 15 assists and 21 points in his last 17 games. He is one away from becoming the first Panthers player with 50 assists since Olli Jokinen had 52 in 2006-07. … The Panthers improved to 10-3-1 this month, tying the franchise record for wins and points (21) in March set in 2006. Florida has three more games remaining this month. … Florida is 20-6-1 in its last 27 games. …. The Panthers improved to 26-1-0 when leading after two periods. … Tavares snapped a five-game point streak in which he had two goals and seven assists.

UP NEXT[Imagine: nike_dolphins_428.jpg]

Panthers: At the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night in the second of a four-game trip.

Islanders: At the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.



Follow Vin Cherwoo at .


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