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Portland 98, Dallas 79
Blazers Bury Mavs to Avert Elimination

Rasheed Wallace was 3-for-5 from beyond the arc.
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PORTLAND, Ore., April 27 (Ticker) -- The Portland Trail Blazers appeared to take out four seasons' worth of playoff frustration in six minutes.

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Zach Randolph collected 25 points and 15 rebounds and Rasheed Wallace added 23 points as the Trail Blazers went on a furious run to pull away from the Dallas Mavericks, 98-79, and avoid being swept in their Western Conference first-round series.

Damon Stoudamire chipped in 17 points and 11 assists and Bonzi Wells had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Blazers, who had lost 10 straight playoff games since Game Six of the 2000 conference finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.

"We came out and played a full 48 minutes," Wells said. "We just didn't play 24 or 36. We put together a full 48 minutes offensively and defensively, especially defensively."

The Blazers avoided matching the longest postseason losing streak in NBA history, set by the Baltimore Bullets from 1965-70 and tied by the Denver Nuggets from 1988-94.

"We knew we needed this win and we just played hard," said forward Ruben Patterson, who scored Portland's only four points off the bench. "A lot of guys played hard, knowing we didn't want to get swept. Zach played well for us and we just came out in the third quarter with a lot of fire."

Portland ed just 59-58 after Dallas' Adrian Griffin nailed a jumper with 6 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.

But the Blazers countered with an impressive 21-0 run over the next six minutes. Nick Van Exel, whose buzzer-beating shot from just inside mid-court had given the Mavs a 52-49 halftime lead, ended the burst with a turnaround jumper with 30 seconds left in the period to make it 80-60.

"I am very disappointed," Van Exel said. "We were right there at halftime and when we came out in that third quarter, I thought we had some pretty good looks at the basket. The shots that we have been making, we just didn't make them tonight."

"Third period, I don't know what to tell you," Dallas coach Don Nelson added. "I was very disappointed with our performance. I just didn't have any life out there, for whatever reason. We were outplayed and outeverythinged in the third quarter."

The Mavericks shot just 4-of-19 in the third quarter and committed five turnovers, while Portland connected on 9-of-19 attempts without a turnover.

"What went right? We made shots and they didn't make shots," Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "When they're missing shots and we're getting rebounds off those misses, it leads to easy baskets. The big thing, though, is that we came out from the beginning and competed."

"When our jumper is not going, we will always have trouble because we don't have a low-post presence and we are going to struggle," Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki said.

Portland again was missing injured guards Derek Anderson and Scottie Pippen, but Dallas barely got any production from its starting backcourt. Steve Nash was held scoreless on 0-of-4 shooting and Michael Finley, who was suffering from flu-like symptoms, made just 3-of-12 attempts and scored just seven points.

Stoudamire started for Pippen at the point and Randolph started at forward, while Wells shifted to shooting guard.

"Coach told me yesterday at practice and said to get ready and prepare myself (to start)," Randolph said.

"Zach stepped up and gave us so much energy," Cheeks said. "He is one of our most productive players. When you call on him, he's ready and not afraid of anybody."

Nowitzki collected 26 points and 11 rebounds to pace Dallas but had just four points and four boards in the second half. With the game out of hand, he sat out the fourth quarter.

"I thought it was time to give my bench some minutes and save whatever it is we were trying to save for another day," Nelson said.

The Mavs, who scored just 27 points in the second half, shot 37 percent (31-of-83). The Blazers were not much sharper, connecting at 41 percent (31-of-75), but made 30 free throws to Dallas' 12.

"I thought (Cheeks) got a great performance out of his starters, and they played well together," Nelson said. "They got us in foul trouble and got to the free-throw line 42 times. And most of them were deserved."

"I think the players were challenged today," Cheeks said. "The series is not over until someone wins four games. I really don't think Dallas took the game lightly - no NBA franchise would do that in a playoff situation like this when they could close us out."

Game Five is Wednesday in Dallas.

"We have to practice tomorrow and we have to be ready," Randolph said. "We all have to believe and stick together as a team."

"Of course, we are happy to be up 3-1," Nowitzki said. "But if you look at it, they had a great shot to win both games in Dallas, so we can't be too satisfied with what we have, and that is why we really wanted to win this game today and make sure we close the series out."