Blazers go cold after building 15-point bulge
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- For 38 minutes, the Portland Trail Blazers repelled every charge the Los Angeles Lakers made. Then the roof caved in.

Portland's 15-point lead evaporated in a 6½-minute stretch of the fourth quarter when the Blazers couldn't make a basket. The Lakers hit three critical 3-pointers, tied the game and then put it away over the final 1½ minutes for an 89-84 victory Sunday.

"We lost this game in one quarter," said Scottie Pippen, who came to Portland this season wanting to add a championship to the six he won with the Chicago Bulls.

Scottie Pippen
Portland's Scottie Pippen eluded Ron Harper and the Lakers for nine first-quarter points, but he missed six of seven shots after that.

Instead, the Lakers clinched the Western Conference finals 4-3 and advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1991.

"We realize we sort of made cowards of ourselves in the fourth quarter," Pippen said. "We played like we were fatigued and they gained the momentum they needed to pull this game out."

The Blazers missed 13 consecutive shots in the 6½ minutes despite getting good looks at the basket.

"We got shots we wanted and didn't hit them," said Steve Smith, who scored 12 of his 18 points over the end of the third and start of the fourth to propel the Blazers to the 15-point lead.

"This game and whole series has been a series of runs. The game of basketball is runs," he said. "We had a great chance."

Making it even more painful was the fact that the Blazers all but made Shaquille O'Neal disappear for three quarters. He had nine points at halftime and was scoreless in the third quarter when Portland led by 13 points.

"They were playing their best ball the whole game," O'Neal said. "We were scratching and clawing and with eight minutes left we clamped down."

With the Lakers quickly erasing their deficit, the Blazers went to Rasheed Wallace, who came up empty time after time despite leading the team with 30 points.

He missed twice on one possession, then a jumper by Bonzi Wells went in and out. Pippen missed, then Wallace missed three straight and the Blazers failed to grab offensive rebounds.

"I blew some layups in the post, missed some jumpers. I'll live and die with those shots," Wallace said in a subdued locker room. "It's upsetting, but you've got to live another day. We played as hard as we could."

The Blazers insisted they weren't looking ahead to the finals when they opened the fourth quarter ahead 71-58.

"I thought our guys did an outstanding job for the full 48 minutes," coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Our focus, our concentration was there. Our defensive intensity was there. We did a lot of things right for most of the night."

Pippen said the momentum change in the fourth quarter affected the officiating.

"We wanted to be aggressive and continue to take the ball to the basket, but the momentum of the game shifted. When that happens the officiating tends to shift and we didn't get the calls that we were getting," he said.

"Shaq was able to camp out in the lane much longer knowing all of us had five fouls. The officials never focused on that, and if you allowed him to stay in the lane like that, when you have to sink back in and guys are shooting the ball as well as they shot from the 3-point line in the fourth quarter, then they're going to be a tough team to beat." Help | Advertiser Info | Contact Us | Tools | Site Map | Jobs at
Copyright ©2000 ESPN Internet Ventures. Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and Safety Information are applicable to this site.

Lakers rally to eliminate Blazers, advance to Finals

Ex-Blazer Shaw keys Laker comeback


Steve Smith doesn't get the call on a key fourth-quarter drive.
avi: 394 k
Real: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

Mike Dunleavy would like to have one more game against the Lakers.
wav: 103 k
Real: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6

Scottie Pippen is disappointed with the Blazers' fourth quarter.
wav: 120 k
Real: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6

News   Money   Entertainment   Kids   Family
Other Rounds

Conference Quarterfinals


Conference Finals

Penguins vs. Devils

Sabres vs. Senators

Bruins vs. Hurricanes

Flyers vs. Leafs
Conference Quarterfinals


Conference Finals