L.A. Lakers 92, Portland 91
Horry Continues L.A. Story; Sinks Trey, Blazers
PORTLAND, Ore., April 28 --
Kobe finds Horry for the game-winner:
It's called championship mystique. Robert Horry
and the Los Angeles Lakers have it.
With the Lakers down 91-89, Kobe Bryant drove the lane and dished to an open Horry, who buried a clutch three-pointer with 2.1 seconds remaining, giving the Lakers a 92-91 victory and another first-round sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Blazers forward Scottie Pippen, a six-time champion while a member of the Chicago Bulls, is particularly tired of seeing the Lakers in the postseason.
Pippen has spent one season with Houston and three with Portland. Each time, he has been eliminated from the playoffs
by Los Angeles, going out in the first round three times.
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Robert Horry gets mobbed after hitting the series-winning trey.
"I'm never happy to lose," Pippen said. "Losing and understanding why you lost makes a difference. We made some
mistakes in today's game that cost us the ballgame. We've got to find a way to get through this team."
This one had to be particularly painful for Pippen. In the final 10 seconds, he missed a free throw and a defensive assignment and threw away an inbounds pass, turning a certain victory into a season-ending defeat.
"It's frustrating," Pippen said. "There's no doubt we wanted today's game. They made a lot of big shots to give themselves an opportunity to stay in the ballgame and win it. That's the sign of a champion."
The third-seeded Lakers eliminated the Blazers for the third straight year, the last two being first-round sweeps. They
await the winner of the series between San Antonio and Seattle as they pursue a third consecutive championship.
"We know what it takes," center Shaquille O'Neal said. "We're going to be very, very focused and there's no room for slippage. We're just working on No. 3."
"The big key for us is the next series doesn't start until next Sunday, and that allows us an ample opportunity to prepare ourselves to look at the other opponents in the other bracket and watch their games," Lakers coach Phil Jackson added.
Pippen had his usual solid all-around game with 18 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. But none of that helped Portland down the stretch.
A follow dunk by Rasheed Wallace gave the Blazers an 89-84 lead with 39 seconds left. Rick Fox answered with a layup and
Wallace made 1-of-2 from the line with 17 seconds to go.
"We had some help from some of their players," Fox said.
After Bryant's 3-pointer pulled Los Angeles within a point, Pippen was fouled with 10.8 seconds remaining. He made the
first but missed the second, giving the Lakers a chance to tie or take the lead -- which they did.
"Scottie missed a free throw and allowed us to take the game," Horry said.
From above the 3-point circle, Bryant dribbled right against Ruben Patterson. Pippen jumped in front of Bryant, trying to
draw a charge but leaving Horry open in the corner. Bryant pulled up and dished to Horry, whose 3-pointer gave the
Lakers a 92-91 lead with 2.1 seconds left.
"The guys on their bench were yelling and then all of a sudden everything slows down for you, and I shot it and made it," Horry said. "I was surprised that Pippen bit that hard and allowed me to get the rock."
"It's cash. He's done it so many times," Bryant said.
On the next possession, Pippen tried to inbound to Wallace, but his pass was overthrown and intercepted by Horry, who was fouled with less than a second to go. He missed both free throws, but the Blazers did not get another shot.
"Painful. It's like breaking your heart," Blazers guard Derek Anderson said. "I've been in difficult losses, but I don't remember one of this magnitude."
"The game was not won or lost on that last play," Cheeks said. "We had Steve (Kerr) popping out and Rasheed in the post, but we just couldn't get them the ball."
It was another clutch playoff shot by Horry, who scored just eight points. He was a key component of Houston's championship teams in 1994-95 and made a big 3-pointer in Game 3 of last year's NBA Finals.
"I got my right rhythm," Horry said. "I got my feet down. I got to spin the ball and get it on the seams instead of just catching to shoot. If I can catch it and spin it and put it on the seams, nine times out of 10 I'm probably going to knock it down."
"He's a critical-time player," Jackson said. "We have to gauge his moments so that he's there on the floor at the end of halves and end of games so that he can do that."
Bryant scored 25 points and O'Neal added 21, 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Lakers, who have won 19 of their last 20 playoff games, including seven in a row.
Wallace had 20 points and 12 boards and Bonzi Wells scored 19 points for the Blazers, who have lost seven consecutive playoff games, all to the Lakers.
Portland led by as many as five points in the fourth quarter. After a fast-break layup by Rick Fox gave Los Angeles an 84-82 lead with 4:08 to play, Damon Stoudamire made a 3-pointer and Wells sank two free throws.
O'Neal, who was 11-of-16 from the line, missed a pair before Wallace's dunk.
The Blazers limited O'Neal to one basket in the first half but still trailed, 50-41, as the Lakers closed with a 14-4 surge. But Los Angeles missed its first 10 shots of the third quarter, and a 3-pointer and two free throws by Pippen capped a 13-2 run that gave Portland a 54-52 edge.
A free throw by Shawn Kemp widened the advantage to 59-53 with 5:28 left. Bryant ended the drought with a jumper at the 4:45 mark.
Fox scored 16 points and Fisher added 11 for the Lakers, who shot 46 percent (32-of-70) from the field.
Anderson scored 12 points for the Blazers, who shot 38 percent (32-of-84) but held a 53-37 rebounding edge.