Originally created 04/27/01

Lakers 106, Trail Blazers 88



LOS ANGELES -- The Portland Trail Blazers fired their best punch at the Los Angeles Lakers, and the defending NBA champions merely shrugged it off.

Shaquille O'Neal had 32 points, 12 rebounds and five assists Thursday night as the Lakers rolled to a 106-88 victory over the Blazers, giving them a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.

The Blazers came out fast, making 13 of their first 16 shots - many from long range - but in the end, it didn't mean a thing.

Kobe Bryant added 25 points and seven assists, Rick Fox had 19 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals for the Lakers.

Game 3 in the best-of-five series will be played Sunday in Portland, where a fourth game is scheduled Tuesday night, if needed.

Only five teams have rallied to win a best-of-five series after losing the first two games since the NBA instituted the current format in 1984.

The Lakers haven't lost as many as three in a row since coach Phil Jackson took over before last season. That's a span of 189 games, including the playoffs.

With the Lakers leading 84-72 and 8:46 to play, Portland's Dale Davis was called for a flagrant foul and ejected for elbowing Robert Horry.

The Lakers scored the next five points, and the Blazers didn't threaten after that.

The game got so out of hand that when Portland's Damon Stoudamire was hit with a technical foul with 5:46 left, O'Neal was given the opportunity to shoot it, and he made it to the cheers of the Staples Center crowd, putting the Lakers ahead 92-75.

A little over a minute later, Scottie Pippen picked up a technical foul and Rasheed Wallace, who set an NBA record with 41 this season, was assessed two, calling for automatic ejection.

Pippen led the Blazers with 21 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Wallace added 17 points and Steve Smith scored 16.

O'Neal scored five points and assisted on a layup by Fox in the opening three minutes of the third quarter to give the Lakers a 62-49 lead.

Wallace picked up his fourth foul with 5:05 remaining in the third period and Los Angeles leading 71-59, and sat out the rest of the quarter, which ended with the Lakers ahead 80-65.

The Blazers' quick start resulted in a 29-21 lead. Then, they turned stone cold, hitting just two of their next 16 shots and being outscored 29-13 to fall behind 50-42 with 45 seconds left before halftime.

Brian Shaw's 3-pointer with less than a second left in the half gave the Lakers a 55-46 lead - largest for either team to that point.

Pippen, who had 13 points in the Lakers' 106-93 win in Game 1 and later complained about being a minute part of the Blazers' offense, came out firing, scoring nine points in the first seven minutes and 15 in the first half.

Notes:

The Lakers extended their winning streak to 10 games including the last eight of the regular season, while the Blazers are going in the other direction, having lost nine of their last 12. ... The game was the 200th in the playoffs for Pippen in his 14-year career - second-most in NBA history behind former Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who played in 237. ... O'Neal was named a repeat winner of the IBM Award on Thursday. The award is determined by a computerized rating that measures a player's overall contribution to his team. ... The Lakers' first-round playoff record after winning the first game is 26-1. ... Smith and O'Neal had a brief skirmish with 11:01 remaining and were assessed double technicals. No punches were thrown. The Davis-Horry episode took place less than 21/2 minutes later.