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Cheeks Likes Game Plan With Tweaks

April 24, 2002|Elliott Teaford

The Trail Blazers hope to give their game plan a few minor tweaks before Game 2 begins Thursday at Staples Center.

Among their shortcomings in Game 1 was a lack of defensive pressure on the Laker guards. Instead of extending their defense, forcing turnovers and creating easy baskets off the fastbreak, the Trail Blazers let the Lakers come to them.

And they paid a steep price, making only 30 of 82 shots (36.6%) and dropping Game 1 into the Lakers' laps.

"I think our game plan was fine," Portland Coach Maurice Cheeks told the Oregonian. "But we didn't execute our whole game plan. We didn't defend up the court. We didn't do it for whatever reason. I don't know, maybe we saw too many stars in the stands."

Cheeks also was troubled by the Trail Blazers' impatience in their half-court offense.

In several instances, particularly late in the game, they settled for perimeter shots instead of working the ball closer to the basket.

"We took too many quick shots," he said.

Pressed for details, Scottie Pippen said: "We went away from our offense and never established the inside pressure on them that we had going at the beginning of the game."

However, the Trail Blazers remain hopeful of a victory in Game 2.

They expect their adjustments will give them a better chance of beating the Lakers and tying the best-of-five series before it shifts to Portland for Game 3 on Sunday.

"The game was right there for us," Steve Kerr said. "We were down five [points] with a few minutes to go and we didn't really play that well."


For what it's worth, the Trail Blazers have lost five consecutive playoff games to the Lakers, including the by-now famous Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference finals.

The Trail Blazers also have been outscored by the Lakers, 437-367, in those four games plus one memorable fourth-quarter meltdown.

Portland led the Lakers, 71-58, to start the fourth quarter of Game 7 on June 4, 2000 at Staples Center, and also held a 75-60 advantage with 10:28 remaining.

The Lakers then went on a 15-0 run over the next 6:28 to tie the score, eventually pulling out an 89-84 victory. They went on to defeat the Indiana Pacers in six games for their first NBA championship since 1988.


Reserve guard Derek Anderson, whose 22 points in Game 1 kept the Trail Blazers close until the end, suffered a case of stomach flu and did not practice with his teammates. His status for Game 2 was not immediately certain, although it's expected that he will play Thursday.


After spending Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights in Portland, the Trail Blazers are scheduled to return to L.A. this morning, conducting a practice this afternoon at Staples Center. Last season, playing a similar Sunday-Thursday schedule against the Lakers in the first round, the Trail Blazers stayed in L.A.

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