PORTLAND, Ore., Feb. 2 (Ticker) --
Rookie Sebastian Telfair
spark in the fourth quarter. Zach Randolph
and Nick Van Exel
turned it into a fire.
Telfair scored nine points in the final period and Randolph and
Van Exel combined for 11 points over the final two minutes as
the Portland Trail Blazers rallied for a 97-94 victory over the
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Denver lost the first time in four games under new coach George Karl
"They fought hard," Karl said. "I don't think I helped them much
tonight. My lack of understanding of them didn't help. The
responsibility falls on my shoulders."
With his teammates struggling, Telfair scored nine of Portland's
first 11 points in the fourth quarter. He buried a 3-pointer
with 7:15 left to snap a 76-76 tie, giving the Trail Blazers the
lead for good.
"The more minutes he plays the better he gets," Portland coach
said of Telfair, who played just 15 minutes.
"Yesterday, the coaches and veterans got on me for not bringing
any energy," said Telfair, who managed just one point against
the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. "I felt that I owed it to
them so I went out there and played my hardest. Coach said
there's no rookies out on the floor, everyone is an NBA player."
Randolph added a pair of free throws just over two minutes later
before Miller hit a jumper with 4:25 remaining to cut the
deficit to 83-82.
Just 2:25 later, Van Exel hit his fifth 3-pointer, sparking a
Randolph hit 5-of-6 free throws and scored seven of the final 10
points for Portland, which has won three of its last five
"I'm still missing shots that I should be hitting," said
Randolph, who went 0-of-12 off the bench in the loss against the
Lakers. "I've never played like this before, but it's gonna
happen. I'm just trying to get it together and play my game."
"Nice team effort," Cheeks said. "Nick carried us offensively in
the first half, but this was a team effort, especially on the
defensive end. I also think Randolph is learning to play within
the flow that we established with our guards."
Van Exel scored 19 points in the first half and Randolph had 10
in the second quarter as Portland grabbed a 49-45 halftime lead.
After Van Exel buried his fourth 3-pointer just 1:45 into the
third quarter, neither he nor Randolph scored for the next 17
"Our offense got a little stagnant at times out there," Van Exel
said. "We got it going a little more after that, but I would
give our offense a C-plus."
, who is 6-2, used his size against 5-10 Damon Stoudamire
and scored eight of his 27 points in the third
quarter to give Denver a 70-68 lead entering the final period.
With a majority of Portland's remaining games at home, Van Exel
thinks there is still a playoff run in his team.
"If we keep playing good and keep pulling out these wins, we
feel confident that we can go on a little roll," Van Exel said.
"Anything is still possible."
Denver's Carmelo Anthony
, who missed a pair of potential tying
free throws with 3:47 remaining, was held to seven points on
"Those free throws I missed isn't something I usually do,"
Anthony said. "I just couldn't get it going offensively. I was
trying to be unselfish and pass tonight, but it doesn't matter
if the shots don't go in."
"We didn't get it done tonight," said Denver forward Kenyon Martin
, who scored 12 points on 6-of-17 shooting. "We win
together and lose together. We just have to keep on going."