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They Pass on Cheeks' Instructions

April 28, 2002|Elliott Teaford

The Trail Blazers will attempt to more closely follow Coach Maurice Cheeks' game plan today in Game 3 at the Rose Garden. So far, they would appear to have let Cheeks' instructions to pass the ball inside to Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells go in one ear and out the other.

Portland has made 62 of 162 shots (38.3%) in the series. The Lakers have made 71 of 153 (46.4%) and lead the best-of-five series by two games to none.

"Jump shot after jump shot," Cheeks told the Oregonian newspaper. "For three days [between Games 1 and 2], we practiced posting up, then the day comes for us to actually do it and we don't do it. We shoot jump shots. That part is puzzling to me."

Wells and Damon Stoudamire, the Trail Blazers' starting guards, have been the biggest rim-busters. Wells is seven for 23 in the first two games of the series and Stoudamire is two for 15.

Despite his guards' poor shooting, Cheeks plans to make no changes to his starting lineup today.

"They have had wide-open shots, but they just haven't made them," Cheeks said, referring to Wells and Stoudamire. "All you can do is keep putting the ball in their hands and keep letting them take the same shots."


His team's lack of composure in Game 2 remained a source of dismay for Cheeks, renowned in his playing days as one of the game's most unflappable performers. The Trail Blazers drew four technical fouls and one flagrant foul in the second half of Thursday's seven-point loss against the Lakers.

The Lakers made all four free throws after the technical fouls, sank both free throws after Ruben Patterson clobbered Shaquille O'Neal with 5:46 remaining, then made a basket after retaining possession.

"I didn't understand it," Cheeks said. "Frustration is part of basketball, but to give them eight points on technicals [and a flagrant foul] is a problem for us and that's what dissatisfied me most about that game.

"We're trying to win a playoff game and that's not the way we're going to do it."

The Lakers have been particularly frustrating for Trail Blazer center Dale Davis to face. Davis has fouled out twice and been ejected twice in four playoff games with the Trail Blazers against the Lakers in the last two seasons.


Cheeks sounded as hopeful as could be expected going into what could be the final game of the season for his team. He reminded reporters of the Lakers' inconsistent play at times during the regular season, hoping to see more of it today.

"They've lost some games throughout the year, so certainly someone has stopped them," he said. "And somebody for them has missed shots, and they have done things to allow other teams to win."


The Trail Blazers have lost six consecutive playoff games to the Lakers, including their fourth-quarter collapse in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals in 2000.

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