NBA playoff picture
A look at where things stand in the NBA playoff picture, with seven days remaining in the regular season:
Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers will almost certainly enter the playoffs seeded No. 2 and No. 3 in some order, meaning they’ll be on track to meet each other in the Western Conference semifinals.
And the way those clubs went at each other Wednesday night served as a reminder that such a series could be outstanding.
The race for No. 4 got tighter, with Portland within 1½ games of Houston.
The Trail Blazers held on at the buzzer to beat Sacramento, while the Rockets lost to Denver.
Memphis bolstered its hopes of getting into the playoffs by beating short-handed Miami, but the Grizzlies are still ninth out West — Phoenix remains a game up in the race for No. 8, thanks to its win over New Orleans.
First-round matchups if the season ended Wednesday ...
East: Indiana-Atlanta, Miami-Washington, Toronto-Charlotte, Chicago-Brooklyn.
West: San Antonio-Phoenix, Oklahoma City-Dallas, Clippers-Golden State, Houston-Portland.
PORTLAND — Dorell Wright hadn’t hit a game-winner since high school, and certainly he’d never had a winner that was his only basket of the game.
But on Wednesday night, Wright hit a 3-pointer with 7.9 seconds left and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the late-charging Sacramento Kings 100-99.
The three points amounted to his final total.
“That was pretty cool right there,” the nine-year NBA veteran said after the game. “Especially since I was mad at myself for not making my shots the whole game.”
Ray McCallum missed a 21-foot jumper as time ran out for the Kings and Portland’s Robin Lopez grabbed the rebound and held it tight for the victory.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 points to lead the Blazers, who have won six of their past seven games.
“It was an exciting way to win a game,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “Dorell picked a good time to make his shot.”
Portland, which has missed the playoffs for the past two seasons, clinched a postseason berth with a 100-94 victory over New Orleans on Sunday. The Blazers were fifth in the Western Conference with three games left.
DeMarcus Cousins had 30 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings, who were without injured guard Rudy Gay. Sacramento has lost four straight and sit near the bottom of the conference in front of the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah.
Sacramento trailed by as many as 15 points late in the first half, but the Kings pressured the Blazers in the second and tied it at 84 on McCallum’s 3-pointer with 8:17 left in the game.
Damian Lillard’s 3-pointer put Portland up 91-86, but Cousins’ layup tied it again at 93 with 3:12 left.
Aldridge dunked, but Travis Outlaw’s jumper tied it again before Cousins scored to make it 97-95 for the Kings with 1:31 left. It was Sacramento’s first lead of the game.
Lopez made two free throws for the Blazers to tie it at 97 with 42.3 seconds to go. Cousins made a pair of free throws to give the Kings back a 99-97 lead with 14.8 seconds left before Wright made the 3 for the win.
After the game, Wright’s Blazers teammates nicknamed him “Little Robert Horry.”
“We didn’t get a great shot, didn’t get great execution on that last play, but a great opportunity for Ray to make a play,” Kings coach Michael Malone said. “But he came up a little bit short.”