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They Need to Stay Cool and Get Hot

April 27, 2002|Elliott Teaford

Now what?

Trailing two games to none in their best-of-five opening-round series against the Lakers, the Portland Trail Blazers face two daunting tasks before the teams meet again Sunday in Game 3 at the Rose Garden.

Actually, there are three items the Trail Blazers need to correct and improve upon, but regaining their composure after drawing four technicals and a flagrant foul in the second half of Game 2 is a given.

In addition to showing more maturity, Portland must prove to the Lakers and the basketball world that it can shoot better than 40%. So far in the series, the Trail Blazers have made only 62 of 162 shots (38.3%).

Above all else, the Trail Blazers must find an answer for Laker center Shaquille O'Neal, who did as he pleased Thursday at Staples Center, scoring 31 points and taking 14 rebounds.

"We really can't stop Shaq," guard Bonzi Wells said. "It's tough. He's just too big. I mean the whole league can't stop this guy. He's just dominant right now. Then you have guys like Kobe [Bryant] and Rick Fox and Derek Fisher, who play off him very well. It's tough to beat them. They're a good team."

It wasn't as if the Trail Blazers didn't try to muzzle O'Neal in Game 2, but they took it to extremes and were penalized. Guard Ruben Patterson was assessed a flagrant foul late in the game against O'Neal, but insisted it wasn't all that bad.

"I couldn't even hurt that old monster," Patterson said. "That ain't hurting him and he knows I ain't hurting him. I barely hit him.... It's the playoffs. It's basketball. He's a big old monster. You don't have to call a flagrant foul for him like that."


The Trail Blazers aren't getting much offense in the series from their poor-shooting guards. Wells has made seven of 23 shots and Damon Stoudamire is two for 15. Patterson, the self-proclaimed Kobe-stopper, is five for 15.

If not for Derek Anderson, the Trail Blazers' backcourt would be almost useless to them. Anderson has made 10 of 18 shots, including eight of 14 in Game 1.

Bryant and Fisher, the Lakers' starting guards, have outscored Portland's top four backcourt players, 83-71.


L.A. crowds aren't known for getting on the opposition's nerves, but the Game 2 crowd Thursday had Patterson talking afterward.

"It don't mean nothing to me," he said. "They can boo me and say what they want to say. That don't bother me. I don't care. I know they [the Lakers] are going to get the same treatment when they come to our place Sunday. I want the fans to do the same thing to Kobe or Shaq or whoever touches the ball."


Only six teams in NBA history have rebounded from an 0-2 deficit to win a best-of-five series. The Dallas Mavericks were the most recent team to accomplish the feat, rallying last season to defeat the Utah Jazz.

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