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SPORTS EXTRA / NBA PLAYOFFS | Blazer Notes

Players Know Now Is the Time to Catch Fire

May 29, 2000|LONNIE WHITE and SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Trail Blazers are down but not out, and they have confidence they can win Game 5 in Los Angeles because they have won at Staples Center before.

"We realize we have to play well to stay alive," Scottie Pippen said. "We know right now our backs are to the wall and we just have to fight and continue to sustain 48 minutes. We have yet in this series to go out and play a 48-minute game."

Only six teams in NBA history have come back from a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-seven series and the Trail Blazers know they have a tall task in order to be the seventh.

"Their will has just been stronger than ours," point guard Greg Anthony said. "In the second halves, they have been a much better team. They have executed better and they have been able to get into the things they want to do."

But if they can prevent going through any more bad stretches, the Trail Blazers still like their chances.

"I don't think we have a choice," guard Damon Stoudamire said. "We are down three to one. It's a one game series and every time we win, we'll keep it a one-game series. That has to be our mind-set."

*

Rasheed Wallace stayed in the game, again, and hurt the Lakers, again.

Avoiding conflict with the referees for the third consecutive game--while Pippen and Coach Mike Dunleavy got technicals from veteran official Bennett Salvatore--the tempestuous Wallace finished with 34 points and 13 rebounds. Both were team highs and career playoff highs.

Not only that, but Wallace played all 48 minutes on a sore left ankle, an injury suffered midway through the third quarter of Game 3.

"It was all right," said Wallace, who got six of his rebounds on the offensive end. "It still bothers me a little bit, but you have to look past that. There is no time for ankle, or any injuries."

Playing the entire game meant being left in at the end of a rout, but Wallace was not alone. Dunleavy also left Pippen on the court all of the fourth quarter, as the deficit reached as many as 19 with 3:10 remaining, and used three other starters--Arvydas Sabonis, Steve Smith and Damon Stoudamire--for 10 of the 12 minutes.

*

Pippen, when asked Saturday if he was surprised the Lakers did not panic late in Game 3 the night before when they needed a basket to win:

"I was a little surprised. We felt like we had them right where we wanted them. If we could keep it close, we felt like it was a game we could pull out."

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