Originally created 04/29/01

Lakers look to finish off Blazers

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Shaquille O'Neal knows the Portland Trail Blazers are running low on big men to throw at him. And he's ready for an all-out Shaq attack in Game 3 on Sunday.

"I want to be in the middle. I want to bang," the Lakers center said following Saturday's practice. "I want to get fouled and I want to get yanked on.

"When I get hit and I get banged, I just get stronger. After the game, when I take off all the superhero clothes, I feel it. But during the game, it's just another day at the office."

The Lakers lead the best-of-five series 2-0, and a win Sunday will give them their first sweep since 1991 in the first round against Houston.

Without 6-foot-11 reserve forwardcenter Dale Davis, who was suspended for elbowing Robert Horry in Sunday's Game 2, the Blazers are counting on a monumental effort from creaky, 36-year-old center Arvydas Sabonis.

"We've got to get the big fellow some ginseng, get him some massage, some acupuncture, get him a little bit of everything," Blazers point guard Damon Stoudamire said. "He's going to have to give us some big minutes tomorrow, and we're probably going to ask a whole lot more than what we've always asked from him. But right now, he has to give that to us."

Sabonis, who missed 18 games with various injuries, hasn't played 30 minutes in a game since Jan. 20, but he said he might be able to go 40 on Sunday.

"Maybe with one or two minutes to take off," he said. "I don't know what will happen. It depends on my foul trouble."

O'Neal, averaging 28 points and 16 rebounds in the series, said no one can hang with him for that long.

"Not even (WWF wrestlers) Goldberg or the Undertaker," he said. "I'm a football player that plays basketball. A hockey player, too - but I can't skate, so I'm keeping with football."

If Sabonis picks up some early fouls, the Blazers will have to resort to using Wallace - who gives up an even 100 pounds to O'Neal - at center. The other choices would be Antonio Harvey and Will Perdue, who appeared in only 12 and 13 games, respectively, during the regular season.

"Kitchen sink, basically," Portland coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Throw everything at them."

Davis was suspended and fined $15,000 by the NBA for hitting Horry in the chest with his left elbow during the fourth quarter of Game 2. Horry, who had been called for a foul on Davis, joked that he used a "tai chi" move to avoid getting hit in the head.

Portland reserve Stacey Augmon, one of the team's best defenders, also was suspended for Game 3 and fined $5,000 for leaving the bench area.

Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson knows how a 2-0 lead can slip away. The Lakers did it last year in the first round against Sacramento, which won the two games on their court before losing Game 5.

"We found out a little bit about our ability not to be able to close teams out," Jackson said. "It's not an easy thing. There's no formula for it."

Jackson has said the Lakers won't play Game 3 with their "bags packed," and the players aren't assuming a sweep, either.

"I think it'd be nice to be as confident as some of his previous Bulls teams that used to pack for one game, but we haven't gotten to that level yet," Lakers forward Rick Fox said. "We've all prepared ourselves for having to play two tough games here."

Portland, latching on to every last strand of hope, recalled their comeback last season, when they rallied from a 3-1 deficit to force Game 7 in Los Angeles.

"All it takes is one win to shift some psychology here," Dunleavy said.


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