Nelson, Warriors return to playoffs for first time since 1994

PORTLAND, Ore. -- After 12 straight seasons without a postseason appearance, the Golden State Warriors snapped the streak on the final day of the regular season. And on the road, no less.

"To all our fans back home, the curse is over," guard Baron Davis said. "Now we can come in and play the underdog in the playoffs."

Davis had 12 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists, and the Warriors beat the Portland Trail Blazers 120-98 Wednesday night to earn a playoff berth for the first time since 1994.

Golden State (42-40) claimed the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference and will indeed be the underdogs against the Dallas Mavericks, who have the league's best record at 67-15.

The Warriors went into the season finale against the Trail Blazers one game up on the Los Angeles Clippers, but made sure the Clippers' game against New Orleans didn't matter.

"Last day! Can you believe it?" coach Don Nelson exclaimed afterward.

The Clippers went on to lose 86-83 to the Hornets.

It was decided early, with the Warriors going up 64-46 at the half and leading by as many as 28 points.

Stephen Jackson had 31 points, Jason Richardson added 25 and Al Harrington had 24. When Jackson left the game with just more than two minutes left, he and his teammates gathered in a group embrace.

After the game, the Warriors lingered on the floor hopping and dancing with Nelson, who used to coach Dallas.

"It was crazy," Richardson said of the postgame celebration. "Guys were laughing, having a good time, yelling at each other. It just felt amazing."

A Warriors fan in the Rose Garden stands hoisted a sign that read "13 years of waiting ends tonight."

"I'm glad it's over," Richardson said.

The Blazers (32-50), out of the playoff picture for the fourth straight season, had only nine available players because of various late-season injuries. Travis Outlaw had a career-high 36 points and added 10 rebounds.

Blazers coach Nate McMillan said his young players will learn from the experience, not only of the season, but of the final game.

"I think it was great that they had a chance tonight to absorb what's going on over there in the Golden State huddle, watching them celebrate their chance to play next week in the playoffs," McMillan said. "It should be our goal to play postseason basketball. Everything is on the line in those games. It's the best basketball."

The Warriors were coming off a 111-82 victory Tuesday night over the Mavericks, who rested many of their players.

Golden State won nine of 10 down the stretch to make it to the postseason. The Warriors had finished with losing records the previous 13 seasons. Nelson, in his second stint with the Warriors, was also the team's coach the last time they went to the playoffs.

"Each one of these last games has been bigger and bigger. This was the biggest because if we win, we're in. We needed to win," Nelson said.

Rookie Brandon Roy rested his sore knees in the Blazers' final three games. He joined Ime Udoka (right knee), LaMarcus Aldridge (heart), top scorer and rebounder Zach Randolph (hand) and Joel Przybilla (left knee) in watching from the bench in street clothes. Darius Miles, who missed the entire season after knee surgery, was also at the finale.

Richardson's dunk gave the Warriors an early 17-4 lead, and a 3-pointer made it 37-21 before the first quarter was over. Matt Barnes' fast-break layup midway through the second quarter made it 54-36.

Monta Ellis' layup midway through the fourth quarter made it 100-84.

"I'm very relieved at this particular moment. I'll wake up tomorrow and it'll be a new day and I'll have a new challenge," Nelson said. "But at this particular time I'm going to sit back, drink a cold beer and enjoy the moment. Seize the moment, if you will."

Portland lost six of its final seven games.

Game notes
The Blazers, celebrating their 1977 NBA championship, retired the No. 14 jersey of the starting guard from that team, Lionel Hollins. ... Golden State's 41 first-quarter points were the most scored in a first quarter this season against the Blazers. ... The final seconds of Golden State's win were shown on the main center-field scoreboard during the San Francisco Giants' game against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Warriors also opened up their arena to fans to watch the game.