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TRAIL BLAZER NOTES

Fisher Has Opposition Guessing

April 27, 2001|LONNIE WHITE

Before the best-of-five first-round playoff series began, Portland figured to have an edge at point guard with Damon Stoudamire going against the Lakers' Derek Fisher.

But in Game 1, Fisher stepped up with 21 points, making seven of 10 field goals, including two three-pointers. It has definitely gotten Stoudamire's attention.

"You have to give Derek Fisher his credit," Stoudamire said. "He was injured for about six months, I think, and during that six-month period all he must have done was shoot stationary jumpers.

"He's confident and he's knocking those shots down. To a certain extent, the game plan is to kind of let him shoot, but you still have to get your hand up on him."

In Game 2, Stoudamire finished with 10 points and Fisher nine.

"It's not like we are necessarily playing straight up," Stoudamire said. "But at the same time, I have to affect him somewhat."

Portland Coach Mike Dunleavy said the Trail Blazers depend on their point guards to lead their offense.

"We need for them to get us in the open court and make good decisions," Dunleavy said. "But when it is not there, they have to make sure that we get to the attack points we want to get to. Target guys we feel we have an advantage with."

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During the regular season, Portland center Arvydas Sabonis averaged 11 points and nine rebounds, but his numbers are expected to be much different playing against the Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal in this series. Sabonis had 11 points and five rebounds in 34 minutes Thursday.

"We get him to score 10 or more points, [our success improves greatly]. . . . If he scores more than 20 points, we'll probably never lose," Dunleavy said.

"The key with Sabis almost has nothing to do with scoring. It's being on the floor. If you go back to all the games we've played against [the Lakers], when he's been on the floor having a presence with his size, rebounding, and the threat of his outside shot and passing, that helps us be a better team."

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Portland's Dale Davis knows firsthand what it's like to face O'Neal in the playoffs. Last season, as a member of the Indiana Pacers, Davis battled O'Neal often in the NBA finals.

Davis said one major difference this season is O'Neal is no longer a liability at the free-throw line.

"It takes away the 'Hack-a-Shaq' because he has been shooting so well as of late," Davis said.

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When Portland has lost Game 2 on the road in the first round of the playoffs, the Trail Blazers have gone on to lose seven of eight series. When they have won Game 2 on the road, they have gone on to win the series eight times in 15 chances.

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