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Final Quarter Proves to Be the Bitter End


The Portland Trail Blazers had worked hard for three quarters and trailed the Lakers by only two points at the start of the fourth.

Then disaster struck.

Rick Fox and Brian Shaw made consecutive three-point baskets and then Fox stripped the ball from Stacey Augmon at halfcourt and made a fastbreak layup to open a 10-point lead.

"We had a couple of breakdowns defensively and they hit a couple of threes," said Portland backup point guard Rod Strickland, who was one of the Trail Blazers on the floor at the start of the fourth quarter. "They had the momentum after that."

By the time Scottie Pippen scored Portland's first basket of the quarter, the Trail Blazers had gone without a point for over four minutes and the game was basically over.

Power forward Rasheed Wallace, who dominated the Lakers with 24 points over the first three quarters, did not start the fourth and once he returned, he was a non-factor.

"We had a bad stretch to start the fourth quarter with Rasheed on the bench," Portland Coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Maybe we didn't have enough firepower on the floor but we also had a couple of guys in foul trouble."


Wallace, who led the league in technicals for the second consecutive season, picked up an unusual one after the first half ended.

As the teams walked off the court, Wallace picked up the ball and threw it high into the air. As he walked past referee Bill Spooner, reportedly the official told Wallace that if he had played better, he wouldn't be so upset.

Spooner's comment got to Wallace, who charged the official and picked up a technical foul before he was restrained by teammate Damon Stoudamire and a couple of his coaches.

Wallace did not comment on the incident after the game.


Because this is only a best-of-five series, the Trail Blazers do not have much room for error the rest of the first round.

But Portland is not giving up hope. At least not yet.

"It's just one game, it doesn't put us in any kind of hole really," said Pippen. "Unfortunately, we didn't get the first one but we are in the same position that we were in at the start. We have to try and get a game here on their court to shift the series."

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