By. Ryan Gallardo
PORTLAND. With an outright playoffs berth at stake, the Portland Trail Blazers took care of business at home.
CJ McCollum fired 24 points, Damian Lillard added 22 and 10 dimes while Jusuf Nurkic finished with 20 and 13 boards as the Blazers blasted the Denver Nuggets 132-116 on Sunday (Monday morning RP time).
The victory, the 42nd in 72 games, allowed Portland to claim the No.6 seed in the Wesrern Conference and a place in the postseason. They will play Denver, which finished at No.3, at a still to be determined time next weekend.
The race to the finish delighted Lillard who told reporters, "I'm a big gan of wrestling and everybody dont get to participate in the Royal Rumble. But we made it eight years straight."
A tall feat indeed, given how talen-laden the Western Conference is.
The Blazers meant business right from the start and got off the gates with a 43-22 first quarter run. With 18 made threes and shooting 52.9 percent from the field (46 of 87) Portland led by as many as 27 points.
Had the Blazers lost their home finale, the Los Angeles Lakers, who steamroleld past the New Orleans Pelicans, 110-98, would have been the sixth seed while Portland would be relegated to the play-in tournament as the No.7 seed.The play-in tournament starts this Wednesday.
"I thought what we accomplished now is pretty gratifying because it was not an easy season. I think there was a lot of negativity out there and we persevered through that, " a relieved Portland head coach Terry Stotts said.
Markus Howard paced the Nuggets with 23 points off the bench while Nikola Jokic registered 21 markers on 9-of-17 shooting despite logging 17 minutes of action. Paul Millsap and JaMychal Green combined for 23 points for Denver, which made only 44 of 98 field goals (44.9 percent).