LOS ANGELES, April 25 (Ticker) --
The Los Angeles Lakers are living up
to their expectations while the Portland Trail Blazers are
living down to theirs.
collected 31 points and 14 rebounds as the
Lakers took a commanding 2-0 lead in its Western Conference
first-round series after a 103-96 victory over the Portland
Trail Blazers, who again demonstrated the lack of composure that
has become their trademark.
NBA TV highlights from|
Shaq with the slam:
The defending champions never trailed and opened up an 18-8 lead
on a 3-pointer by Kobe Bryant
and a jumper by Derek Fisher
three-point play by Fisher opened up a 48-34 lead with just over
three minutes left in the first half and the outcome was never
really in question.
"That game had many faces out there tonight," Los Angeles coach
Phil Jackson said. "We shot the ball well in the first half
because of the opportunities that they gave us."
As usual, Shaq was dominant inside. He even hit seven of nine free throws Thursday.|
Portland's propensity for mental miscues can never be questioned
and the Trail Blazers made plenty of stupid plays to help Los
Angeles' cause. One instance was by Ruben Patterson
, who was
too aggressive in boxing out Fisher with time running out in the
half and was whistled for a foul. Fisher made two foul shots
for a 51-37 cushion.
and Bryant got tangled up for a loose ball midway
through the third quarter, which caused players from both teams
to converge. That merely served to fire up the Lakers as
Bryant and O'Neal did all the scoring in a 9-2 spurt for a 67-50
lead with 4:12 to go.
"I like a physical game," O'Neal said. "When they play physical
with me, they're just playing into my hands. My guys are
looking for me down low and I just did what I do."
Bryant capped the run with a technical foul shot after Dale
was ejected. Davis fouled O'Neal and protested by kicking
the ball into the stands for his second technical. All that
was left was a technical foul by volatile Portland forward
, who picked up the Blazers' fourth with 2:44
"We lost a little composure in there tonight," Portland coach
Maurice Cheeks said. "I'm a little disappointed that we did it
because for the most part, we have been pretty good all year
long and the first game. So it is something that needs to be
addressed and it was addressed."
Wallace had a shot rejected by Robert Horry
with 8:36 remaining
in the fourth. That led to a fast break for Los Angeles with
Bryant feeding O'Neal for a left-handed dunk and an 87-67 bulge.
The Blazers actually made a late charge and Pippen's 3-pointer
capped a 19-4 run to cut the deficit to 98-92 with 1:43
remaining. Portland got the ball back and had a chance to get
closer but Steve Kerr
, considered to be one of the team's more
cerebral players, inexplicably launched an off-balance 3-pointer
The Lakers made 5-of-6 foul shots to close the game.
"When you're ahead like that, when you try and play not to lose,
that's when you tighten up," Fisher said. "They made some
shots that they had been missing all night."
Bryant finished with 19 points despite a horrific shooting
night, making 5-of-21 attempts. Fisher netted 18 points and
Rick Fox added 13.
But O'Neal was the dominant force as usual for Los Angeles. He
made 12-of-20 shots as he helped Los Angeles hold a 52-38 edge
in points in the paint.
O'Neal's power game was so overwhelming that Patterson was
whistled for a flagrant foul on the 7-1 behemoth in the fourth
quarter and tried to apologize. O'Neal brushed him off as
Patterson and the Blazers protested.
"It's playoff time and nothing can break my composure or break
my spirits," O'Neal said. "We should have beat this team by
"That wasn't a flagrant foul," Patterson said. "How can you
hurt that big old monster? I barely hit him."
Wallace poured in 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for
Portland, which has lost six straight playoff games to Los
Angeles. Pippen fouled out with 20 and nine but the Trail
Blazers shot just 29.5 percent (13-of-44) in the first half.
The Blazers' backcourt struggled as Damon Stoudamire
combined to make just 4-of-18 shots for 12 points.
Portland was also hammered on the glass as Los Angeles held a
comfortable 48-35 edge.
"We just can't hit our shots," Wells said. "They're tough.
It's tough to dethrone a champion."
O'Neal made 7-of-9 foul shots as Los Angeles took advantage of
31 personal fouls by Portland to convert 30-of-36 attempts from
the line. Fisher made 9-of-10 and Bryant was 8-of-9.