PORTLAND, Ore. — If they get a vote, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum know which side they’re on.
They both intend to be back in the starting lineup when the Portland Trail Blazers end the regular season Wednesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans at Moda Center.
“I plan to play,” Lillard said after sitting out Monday in Portland’s victory over San Antonio, primarily to get some rest before the playoffs. “I want to get in a game to get back into rhythm before the playoffs start.”
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McCollum missed a game for the first time this season while sitting out the Spurs contest, too.
“My intentions are to play Wednesday,” he said.
The final decision will be left to coach Terry Stotts, who chose to rest starting guards Lillard and McCollum and starting small forward Moe Harkless for the San Antonio game. The Blazers (41-40) won anyway, with Noah Vonleh’s buzzer-beating basket sealing a 98-97 verdict.
“I’m not sure what we’ll do,” Stotts said, unwilling to tip his hand as to what lineup the Blazers will field to face New Orleans.
Lillard has been dealing with some pain in his right foot dating to a game at Atlanta on March 18.
“I never want to miss a game,” he said, “but it’s been bothering me a little for some time. It was probably a smart thing to do to sit out the (Spurs) game and not re-aggravate it. But I don’t need to rest anymore. I need to play.”
Allen Crabbe, Portland’s reserve guard who has shot superbly the second half of the season, sat out the past two games to rest a sore left foot. He has been walking in a boot but shot some during Tuesday’s practice session. He may not play against the Pelicans but said he intends to be ready for the opener of Portland’s first-round playoff series against Golden State.
The Blazers will be shooting for a winning record with a victory over New Orleans.
“I remember when I was coaching in Milwaukee, we made the playoffs with a 40-42 record (in 2005-06),” Stotts said. “That always kind of stuck with me. It’s always better to go into the postseason with a winning record.”
The Pelicans (33-48), who have lost five in a row, could come to Portland with an abbreviated cast. Big men Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins both sat out a 108-96 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Tuesday.
Davis has missed the past three games with a sore left knee while Cousins has been idle for four games due to tendinitis in his right Achilles tendon.
“These last few games offer a chance for us to get longer looks at our younger players,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said.
Gentry is thinking of players such as guards Quinn Cook and Jordan Crawford, who came off the bench to combine for 43 points in a 123-101 loss at Golden State last Saturday.
Crawford is averaging more than 14 points in the 18 games since he signed a 10-day contract with New Orleans last month. Crawford has since agreed to a two-year contract with the Pelicans.