Blazers seek something to play for

Portland concludes home schedule today against Utah

By Matt Calkins, Columbian Sports Reporter

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The Elias Sports Bureau has not confirmed this, but it is estimated that Trail Blazers interim coach Kaleb Canales has said the phrase “Stay in the moment” approximately 230,123 times since taking over in mid-March.

So here is the question: Can you the fans stay in the moment, too?

There is only one more home game for the rest of the season, and it is tonight against the Utah Jazz.

There are no playoff implications. There is a very good chance those in attendance will see usual starters resting (Nicolas Batum and Raymond Felton did so Monday night.)

So the question is: Fans -- what’s in it for them?

Well, for one, they can try to think of it like a college football bowl game.

No, the results of this game will not have an bearing on the season -- although it could potentially affect Portland’s draft position.

But no matter who the opponent is, it’s nice to go out with a win, right?

If this game is close, expect those on hand to be just as enthusiastic about it as they would be in December or so.

For two, there are two Blazers with extremely good chances of winning a shooting title. The first is Jamal Crawford, who is shooting .929 from the free-throw line this year, 0.014 points better than second place Ray Allen.

Crawford’s primary competition, however, comes from New Jersey’s Anthony Morrow, who is shooting .930 from the stripe, but has not attempted enough to qualify. Just to be safe, Crawford should, you know, not miss again this season.

Luke Babbitt is actually in a similar position ... to Morrow.

As it stands, Steve Novak leads an extremely tight race for the NBA’s 3-point shooting crown, coming into Tuesday night shooting .458 from deep, with Ramon Sessions, Ersan Ilyasova, Stephen Curry and Ray Allen all within .05 points.

Well, Babbitt is shooting .480 from deep, but needs to make seven 3s over the next four games to qualify. That is something for which to cheer.

This will also be a way to gauge Portland’s pride. It is easy to give up, no doubt about that.

The Blazers did not do so against the Mavericks last week, even though they could have when trailing by 20 heading into the fourth quarter.

Will fans see a similar resurgence against Utah during the final game?

That, of course, remains to be seen.

Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or matt.calkins@columbian.com