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- The Portland Trail Blazers’ disappointing season will come to an end tonight, and fittingly it will close with the team being shorthanded. Starting point guard Raymond Felton (right Achilles) will not play, and reserves Jamal Crawford (knee tendinitis) and Nicolas Batum (left quad) are also out. Portland does get Joel Przybilla back after he missed a 124-89 loss to San Antonio on Monday with bronchitis. Przybilla will start along with Luke Babbitt, J.J. Hickson, Nolan Smith and Wesley Matthews.
- Felton, Crawford and Batum join injured players LaMarcus Aldridge and Elliot Williams on the sidelines. Former Jazzman Matthews is the only Trail Blazer to play in all 65 games this season. That’s just the kind of season it’s been for the Trail Blazers, who have lost six straight games and will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Five of their last six losses have come against teams fighting to reach the playoffs or improve their postseason positioning. “I think we’ve been motivated to play this game,” said Portland interim coach Kaleb Canales. “This has been a great challenge for us, especially this trip. We’ve played a lot of teams with a lot to play for. We’ve been thrown into the fire, which is a great learning experience.”
- The Utah Jazz, who have sewn up the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, are making a change to their starting lineup as Derrick Favors will start at power forward in place of Paul Millsap. Millsap’s playing time will likely be limited — along with the rest of the team’s key veterans — in tonight’s game. “We’re going to rest some guys and we’re going to get some other guys minutes on the floor, but we’ll continue to develop and we want to see guys in game situations — give them more time than usual and see how they grow,” said Utah coach Tyrone Corbin. “We’re playing to get better and that’s what we want to see. Everybody will play.”
- Expect to see rookies Alec Burks and Enes Kanter, and youngsters Blake Ahearn and Jeremy Evans get more playing time than usual for the Jazz. Josh Howard and Raja Bell, veterans coming off of injuries, will play and see where their conditioning is before Utah faces San Antonio in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs on Sunday.
– Andrew Aragon