PORTLAND, Ore., April 13 (Ticker) -- Just when it appeared the Los Angeles Lakers were about to climb into the upper half of the Western Conference bracket, Rasheed Wallace shot them down.

NBA TV highlights from
Lakers-Blazers:
56k | 300k
Wallace's 3-pointer with 3.6 seconds remaining provided the fourth lead change in less than a minute and gave the Portland Trail Blazers a badly needed 101-99 victory over the Lakers, who had a six-game winning streak snapped.

The Lakers, Trail Blazers and Minnesota Timberwolves all began play Sunday with 31 losses in pursuit of fourth place in the West and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The three-time defending champion Lakers held the tiebreakers and could claim fourth place by winning out. They appeared poised to extend their winning streak when Kobe Bryant curled around a pick and sank an 18-footer for a 99-98 lead with 34 seconds to play.

The Blazers, who have lost to the Lakers in each of the last three postseasons, had other ideas. Damon Stoudamire missed a jumper, but the rebound was tapped out to Derek Anderson with nine seconds left. The ball swung right to left around the arc to Wallace, who had been just 1-of-5 from 3-point range.

"Guys stepped up to the challenge today," Wallace said in an on-court TV interview. "They're the world champs. If you're not gonna step up to that challenge, what's gonna get you revved up?"

The Lakers had a chance to tie or win, but Bryant was bottled up 30 feet from the basket and fired a shot that sailed off the backboard.

"Everyone knew that Kobe was going to take the last shot," Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "During the last timeout, I asked a lady in the stands, and the lady said Kobe was going to get the ball. Everyone knew Kobe was going to get the ball. We just had to guard him, that's all."

The Blazers (49-31) moved one game ahead of the Lakers (48-32) into fifth place in the West, one-half game behind Minnesota (50-31). Portland hosts Phoenix and visits the Los Angeles Clippers; the Lakers host Denver and visit Golden State; and Minnesota travels to Memphis.

"It's still the regular season," Wallace said. "We still got two more games. We gotta finish the season out and carry this momentum into the playoffs."

Bonzi Wells scored 29 points and Wallace added 21 for the Blazers, who are virtually assured of not meeting the Lakers in the first round and still have a chance to claim the fourth spot.

"Coach got us together yesterday in practice and told us we need this win and where it was going to take us going into the playoffs," Wells said.

Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal scored 36 points each but were the only players in double figures for the Lakers, who face a daunting task as they begin their quest for a fourth straight championship. Since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 1984, the 1995 Houston Rockets are the only team to win the title without having home-court advantage in any series.

"We have two games to get sharp, but wherever we end up is where we end up," O'Neal said. "It would have been really important for us to win this game and it would have guaranteed the fourth spot."

"It would be nice to have home-court advantage, but if we don't we're not going to panic," Bryant said.

Portland never trailed in the first 40 minutes, leading by as many as 13 points. But there were eight lead changes and a tie in the final seven minutes.

"It was good to be in a game like that, too, before the playoffs," Stoudamire said. "It was good to see the electricity in the fans. It was an exciting game to be playing in."

Devean George and Wells traded 3-pointers, leaving the Blazers with a 96-92 lead with 1:22 to go. But Bryant sank a 3-pointer and George made two free throws, giving the Lakers a 97-96 edge with 1:01 left. Wallace made a 16-footer over the 7-2 O'Neal just 16 seconds later.

A jumper by Arvydas Sabonis gave Portland an 81-72 lead with 9:29 remaining. Bryant scored eight points in a 10-0 burst that gave LA its first lead at 82-81 with 7:06 to play.

The teams traded the lead three times before a free throw by O'Neal tied it at 85-85 5:41 remaining. Wells, who scored 11 points in the last seven minutes, answered with a three-point play.

Anderson had 18 points and eight assists and Dale Davis pulled down 11 rebounds for Portland, which shot 52 percent (41-of-79) from the field and held a 37-32 edge on the boards.

George scored nine points for the Lakers, who shot 51 percent (33-of-65) but fell to 2-2 against the Blazers this season.

Bryant picked up two fouls in the first five minutes and took an early seat. Anderson scored 10 points in the first quarter as Portland opened a 30-23 lead.

Bryant managed just four points in the first half as the Lakers - relying almost exclusively on O'Neal's 24 points - fell into a 52-43 hole. But Bryant scored 13 points in the third period, when LA pulled within a point.