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PORTLAND NOTES

Guarding Shaq Proves to Be Taxing on Wallace

April 22, 2002|Elliott Teaford

Portland center Dale Davis did an adequate job Sunday of defending Shaquille O'Neal in Game 1 of the opening-round series between the Trail Blazers and Lakers. So did power forward Rasheed Wallace, filling in after Davis went to the bench with five fouls with 8:11 to play.

O'Neal scored only two points the rest of the way and had 25 points and nine rebounds by game's end.

Trouble was, Wallace was doing such a good job on O'Neal that he had little energy at the other end of the floor to help the Trail Blazers rally for a victory. The Lakers held on for a 95-87 victory partly because Wallace had only one basket, a three-pointer midway through the fourth quarter, after moving to center.

Portland Coach Maurice Cheeks feared having to play Wallace on O'Neal for that very reason, saying before the game, "It takes a lot out of anyone who has to guard Shaq and not just defensively, but also on the offensive end. We'd like to keep Rasheed from having to do it too much."

After the game, Cheeks said, "I thought Dale was doing a very good job on Shaq, as well as can be expected, but he continued to get fouls. I think Rasheed had to guard him a little more than I wanted and that takes away from his offense. We need him to score in order to win."

Wallace led the Trail Blazers with 25 points and 14 rebounds in 40 minutes.

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Cheeks didn't get all he wanted--or needed--from Bonzi Wells, turning instead to Derek Anderson in the second half. Wells had eight points, but missed eight of 12 shots. Anderson had 22 points on eight-of-14 shooting.

"He didn't have a particularly good game," Cheeks said of Wells. "Derek Anderson was playing pretty well at the time. He is the reason I kept him in the game. I wanted him to attack the basket, which he did. We need more out of a lot of guys."

Said Anderson of the Lakers: "They won by being more aggressive. They were more aggressive and we have to start doing that."

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The Trail Blazers returned to Portland immediately after the game, preferring to practice today and Tuesday at home before returning to Staples Center to work out Wednesday. Game 2 is Thursday. They stayed in L.A. for three days for a similar Sunday-Thursday schedule last season and didn't like the results.

The Lakers swept them from the opening round last spring.

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