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  • Portland can clinch a playoff berth with a victory and a loss tonight from one of the following teams: Dallas, Memphis or Phoenix.
  • New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, who has been dealing with back spasms recently, is expected to start to tonight. “Spasms and soreness, but he’s a lot better than he was,” New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. “He’s structurally fine. We’re OK playing him if he wants to play. We think he’s going to play tonight.”
  • That’s bad news for the Trail Blazers, who have yielded 36, 27 and 21 points to the 6-11 Davis in their three meetings this season. It will be a matchup of All-Stars at power forward, with Davis going against Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge. Davis “is a talented young player,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “His offense is really improved this year and defensively, he creates problems in the paint.”
  • New Orleans had won five in a row before losing four straight going into tonight’s game. The Pelicans are going without their 2-3-4 scorers in Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday, plus reserve center Jason Smith, all missing due to injury. “It’s comparable to if we took Damian (Lillard), Wes (Matthews), Nic (Batum) and Joel Freeland from our team,” Stotts said. “It puts a lot of pressure on everybody. Monty’s a terrific coach. He has handled the situation very well. I’ve been in situations like that, and it’s difficult. This league is hard enough when you have your guys. I can empathize with what they’re going through.”

Kerry Eggers

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