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Breaking down some of the key elements of the Laker-Portland series:

May 21, 2000


All The Beautiful People were in attendance: Jack, Denzel, the Will Smiths, Dustin Hoffman, Ray Liotta, and so on. But so were the loud people. Especially noteworthy because the 12:30 tip-off was the earliest home start of the season, by two hours, the crowd not only arrived on time, but with energy. It might not have matched Game 5 against Sacramento, the deciding game of the first round, but the volume was turned up, never a sure thing in these parts. That was most apparent when the appreciative fans cheered the Lakers through their final possession of the first half, which turned to an explosion when Brian Shaw hit a three-pointer for a 24-point lead. Even after Steve Smith answered with a three-point shot for Portland with 0.3 seconds remaining, the crowd still sent the Lakers into intermission with a nice ovation.


The 14-0 run early in the second quarter that turned a tenuous 30-28 edge for the Lakers into a 44-28 runaway. It included two three-point baskets by Robert Horry, one by Rick Fox and a three-point play by Horry that came with the added L.A. benefit of Rasheed Wallace's third foul. Wallace, the Trail Blazers' all-star power forward, spent the final nine minutes of the half on the bench.


The blowout, early at that, dulled what Laker Coach Phil Jackson had said would be the most important duel of the series, Glen Rice against Smith. Neither was a major contributor or detractor, but it was still an important game from the Lakers' standpoint--Rice with a shooting touch, making five of eight attempts overall and two of four three-pointers, after the 31.5% slump in the second round versus Phoenix.


From Chuck Culpepper of the Oregonian:

I had a searing nightmare Saturday.

I was coaching my Blazers as I have adeptly for three seasons. You know how nightmares come wallpapered with absurdities? Well, this was the basketball equivalent of falling off one of those old TV towers. It was even more macabre than my days at a New York investment firm.

It was Game 1 of a monster series. Our all-star forward Mr. T picked the biggest game of the playoffs to break his promise to not get chucked during the playoffs. You know it's some serious nightmare when they chuck a guy for leering.

Our most dangerous topographical formation, Arvydas Sabonis, sat down in the third quarter with 32 minutes, zero points--and zero rebounds. At 7-foot-3 and 292 pounds, you'd figure he couldn't exist for 32 minutes without a rebound. I had Damon Stoudamire on Kobe Bryant and Kobe spurted around the offensive end like liquid.

The 25th-ranked three-point-shooting team in the league suddenly resembled a whole team of Reggie Millers.

Robert Horry was making three-pointers.

Glen Rice was making three-pointers.

Brian Shaw was making three-pointers.

Ron Harper made a three-pointer.

Talk about indignities, we left that softy Rick Fox open for a three-pointer, and he made it.

They were humanly unguardable. We were so burned by everything we didn't even get around to sending Shaquille O'Neal to the free-throw line until we were behind 80-57. My team, best free-throw shooting bunch in the league, shot the same number of first-half free throws as Dyan Cannon.

We ran a good play at the end of the first half, made a three--and pulled within 21.

Somewhere along the line, maybe in the REM phase, I lost it.

I disfigured the game I love, the game I always did proud as a player. I exposed it for its hard-wired structural flaws. I took the cynical hack-a-Shaq strategy to grotesque levels. I made the Laker Girls work overtime.

I subjected Staples Center and a national TV audience to a bastardization of basketball, to a fourth quarter so long you'd have thought this was the American League. I let everybody go home saying they had seen an extra-terrestrial, a 43-free-throw fourth quarter.


"I can't not do what I think, from a strategic standpoint, is the right thing to do because people are going to miss their cocktail reservation or something."

Portland Coach

Mike Dunleavy


"I ain't giving you all fuel for the fire. I ain't saying nothing."

Portland forward

Rasheed Wallace

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