Blazers: Pundits had Portland free-falling out of the NBA playoffs just one week ago, forgetting all about LaMarcus Aldridge, as well as the up-and-down nature of just about every team in league history short of the 72-10 Chicago Bulls of 1995-96. Now the Blazers are 48-27 and still No. 5 in the Western Conference with just seven regular-season games remaining, starting tonight at the L.A. Lakers.

Winterhawks: It’s Victoria-Portland in the WHL Western Conference semis. The best-of-seven series has games 1 and 2 at Portland, Friday and Saturday. Victoria won the season series 3-1 (one win in regulation, one in OT, one in a shootout), but the Royals and Hawks haven’t seen each other since Jan. 11. The series winner is likely to face Kelowna, which had the league’s best regular-season mark and is favored against Seattle in the other West semi.

Timbers: Four matches into the 34-game MLS season and the Timbers (0-2-2, 2 points) have yet to gain a lead. Darlington Nagbe came up lame during last week’s 2-1 loss at Western Conference leader FC Dallas (3-0-1, 10). But the attack, the team says, is ready to explode, and the fans would do just that with a victory on Saturday, when the hated Seattle Sounders (2-2-0, 6) visit Providence Park at 3 p.m.

Thorns: We have learned that women’s soccer preseason games between pro and college teams are nothing like men’s soccer preseason games between pro and college teams. The men’s games tend to be reasonably close, but last week the Thorns tuned up for their National Women’s Soccer League title game with two picnic outings, feasting on Arizona 10-0 and ASU 5-0 in sunny Tucson. Portland scored in the first three minutes of each game. The Thorns’ season opener is April 12 at the expansion Houston Dash.

Thunder: Portland’s expansion Arena Football League team ranks last out of 14 teams in touchdowns (10) and next-to-last in yards (223.0 average) and pass efficiency after two games. The Thunder (0-2) play the first-year L.A. KISS (1-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday in Anaheim.

Mariners: Seattle has a much revamped team as it sets out to improve on various 2013 marks, notably the 71-91 record, a batting average (.237) that ranked 29th in the major leagues and a run total (624, 3.9 per game) that was 22nd in MLB. The M’s, who were 36-40 vs. the rest of the AL West last year, complete their opening series at the L.A. Angels tonight and Wednesday, then visit Oakland for four games before the home opener at Safeco Field, 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 8, also vs. the Angels.


Baseball: In the Pac-12, Washington (8-1), UCLA (6-3), OSU (5-3) and Oregon (5-3) are setting the pace. ... Portland is 0-9 in the West Coast Conference and 5-22 as it plays host to the Beavers at 3 p.m. today.

Softball: Oregon (6-0), UCLA (8-1) and ASU (6-3) lead the Pac-12. OSU is 2-4. ... Portland State is 1-4 in the Big Sky after dropping two games at home to North Dakota. Northern Colorado (3-0), Sacramento State (4-1) and Idaho State (2-1) are the top three.

Track and field: Oregon won 12 events at the Aztec Invitational on Saturday, with Boru Guyota from Jefferson High first in the men’s 800 meters in 1:50.22. Sam Crouser threw the javelin an NCAA-leading 247-5. Sophomore Jenna Prandini ran a world-leading 22.98 in the women’s 200, one of eight wins by UO freshmen or sophs. The Ducks (ranked No. 2 for women, No. 4 for men) are at Hayward Field on Saturday for a 1 p.m. dual meet against Arizona (No. 9 women, No. 16 men).

Football: PSU will play Saturday, Sept. 6 at home against Western Oregon, after opening Aug. 30 at OSU. The Vikings are at Washington State on Sept. 13. ... Spring practices are underway in the valley, with spring games set for May 3 at Oregon (11 a.m., Autzen Stadium) and Oregon State (1 p.m., Reser Stadium). ... PSU’s first spring workout is April 14. The spring game is May 18.

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