Originally created 05/30/99

Wallace scores playoff high in close game



SAN ANTONIO -- Rasheed Wallace carried the offensive load for Portland on Saturday.

So the Trail Blazers had no reservations about getting the ball to Wallace with six seconds left and a chance to tie the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

Wallace's shot, a 20-foot open jumper, bounced off the rim and over the backboard. Mario Elie then made two free throws for San Antonio as the Spurs won 80-76.

"Rasheed is as talented a basketball player as there is in the NBA. Any time we can get him an uncontested, open jump shot, we're going to live with that," said Portland guard Greg Anthony, who made the pass for the shot. "That's not what lost us the game."

Turnovers, and the Twin Towers attack of David Robinson and Tim Duncan, were the true obstacles for the Blazers.

Wallace scored a career playoff-high 28 points on 12-for-20 shooting and showed the threat he's likely to pose to the top-seeded Spurs in the rest of the best-of-7 playoff series.

"Nobody likes losing, but everyone can't win," said Wallace, whose team faced the Spurs less than 48 hours after eliminating the Utah Jazz in physical conference semifinals.

The Spurs, on the other hand, had been resting six days since sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers.

The potential game-tying shot initially seemed as though it was a good one, Wallace said.

"For a split second I was wide open. ... Unfortunately, it came up short," he said, adding that he hadn't been thinking about stepping back and trying a 3-pointer.

"Just go for the two and go into overtime," he said.

Duncan and Robinson guarded Wallace at different points in the game. Robinson, assigned to Wallace late in the game, switched to help out on Anthony as he drove. Anthony kicked it back to Wallace with six seconds to go.

"He had a pretty decent look at it, but I was running at him. And it makes it pretty tough when someone's running at you," Robinson said.

The 6-foot-11 Wallace seems to relish the opportunity to go head-to-head with 7-footers Duncan and Robinson.

"Timmy and I go way back to college days," said Wallace, who played in the Atlantic Coast Conference against Duncan. "We both were watching David then."

Before Saturday's game, Wallace had averaged 12.6 points in the playoffs.

Isaiah Rider and Brian Grant had been averaging 19.6 and 15.3 points, respectively, for Portland in the playoffs. But the Spurs held Rider to 13 points and Grant scored eight.

"I think Rasheed was the one that was going tonight," Rider said. "He's the one who deserved to take that shot."

Grant said the rest of the Trail Blazers need to improve their offensive production for Monday night's Game 2.

"Some of us have to pick our games up, myself included, to help Rasheed," Grant said. "We got a lot of opportunities that we didn't convert on."

While fatigue may not have hurt the Blazers much, turnovers did.

"We turned the ball over a little more than they did, 13-7," Portland coach Mike Dunleavy said. "So we lost a little bit that way."

"It killed us," Wallace agreed. "That could have meant an extra couple of possessions.

"Our turn will come," Wallace added. "Our turn will come."