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SPORTS EXTRA / NBA PLAYOFFS | Insight

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May 29, 2000

CHUCK CULPEPPER

The Oregonian

"If we could put another notch in our belt in this next game on Sunday, that really spells death's door for Portland, and they know it."

Laker Coach Phil Jackson, Friday night after Game 3.

*

Death's door is, of course, quiet.

It's an exclamation-point-free zone.

The wind howls.

The leaves rustle by.

Voices are low.

The doorbell plays "Taps."

An ambitious team of erstwhile jackals trudges out through the tunnel and toward the off-season with the familiar death's-door expressions of other runners-up from other years--sullen, some heads down, some heads covered in towels--all only 48 hours removed from the rowdy Friday of this big so-called "Beat L.A." weekend, before the lost weekend of 1999-2000 ever got started.

Cup your ear from the porch, and you can hear all those terrible down-three- games-to-one phrases that ring somewhere every spring, only you can't believe you're hearing them so soon after pondering prospective parade routes.

Our focus has to be playing one game.

(Oooh. That hurts.)

It's do or die.

(Please, no!)

Our backs are against the wall.

(Help . . . )

At death's door, Glen Rice wakes up and starts hitting difficult shots.

[And] the fans file out as if there's bad traffic here.

In Quotes

"They made a lot of shots. They made all their free throws. We played an excellent first half but shot ourselves in the foot. We missed five or six open layups."

MIKE DUNLEAVY, Portland coach

*

"They played a great game. I don't know that if we had played well it would have helped us, as well as they played."

SCOTTIE PIPPEN, Portland forward

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