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Four Finger Lakes
LOS ANGELES, April 22 (AP) -- The Portland Trail Blazers might go quickly in their first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kobe Bryant was the Lakers' fourth-quarter catalyst Sunday.
Catherine Steenkeste/NBAE Photos TV highlights: 28.8+ | ISDN+
They won't go quietly.

After the Lakers went on a 19-0 run at the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth to win the series opener 106-93 Sunday, the Blazers complained about how Shaquille O'Neal played and how the officials reacted.

"I don't know what to tell our guys about Shaq," Portland coach Mike Dunleavy said. "He hits you every time, he sits in the lane for five or six seconds.

"The problem is when he's getting some deep catches after being in the lane so long - it's hard to stop him."

Portland's Scottie Pippen said nobody will beat the Lakers if O'Neal is allowed to push the Blazers around.

"It was just ridiculous, the way they called the game," Pippen said. "And then they called tap fouls. Maybe they want the game to turn out this way. If they're going to let him lead with his elbows, throw guys out of the way, then we're going to have to change the way we play."

Pippen also said: "Our defense is geared to stop Shaq. The other guys are stepping up for them, that's the key."

O'Neal, who had 24 points and 20 rebounds but made only 33 percent of his field goal attempts, reacted angrily when informed of Dunleavy's remarks, saying, "Tell Dunleavy to get someone to play me; all they do is cry."

O'Neal said he felt he had an off-game.

"I don't usually shoot 7-for-21, that's a disgrace," he said. "They're playing sort of a zone defense and packing it in."

O'Neal's 57.2 percent field goal percentage led the NBA. Kobe Bryant scored 25 of his 28 points in the second half including 15 in the fourth quarter as the Lakers successfully opened defense of their championship.

Game 2 in the best-of-five series is Thursday night in Los Angeles.

"We certainly didn't expect to finish like that in a close game that was nip-and-tuck for three quarters," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

The Blazers led 72-70 before O'Neal scored the last four points of the third quarter.

Laker Rally
Lakers rally in fourth quarter to thump Blazers:
28.8+ | ISDN+
The Lakers then scored the first 15 points of the final period, beginning with 3-pointers by Rick Fox and Brian Shaw, for an 89-72 lead with 8:27 to play.

The Blazers went quietly after that.

Only a week earlier, the Blazers led the Lakers by one point before Los Angeles scored the game's final six points to win 105-100 in the next-to-last game of the regular season.

Fox said Jackson called him over at the start of the fourth period and said, "You're not giving us anything."

"I couldn't argue," Fox said. He responded, though, making a 3-pointer and getting a steal he turned into a layup after Shaw's 3-pointer.

"Defense got it going," Bryant said of the big run. "They're not going to self-destruct. They've got a guy over there (Pippen) who's won six championships. He's not going to go down easily."

This series is a rematch of last year's Western Conference finals, which the Lakers won by rallying from a 15-point deficit with 10 minutes remaining in Game 7 for an 89-84 victory.

Derek Fisher added a career playoff-high 21 points, and Horace Grant had 14 points and eight rebounds for the Lakers.

Rasheed Wallace led the Blazers with 24 points and seven rebounds. Damon Stoudamire scored 18 points, and Pippen added 13.

Wallace, who picked up an NBA-record 41 technical fouls this season, angrily threw the ball high into the air as the half ended, and then jawed with one of the officials as the teams were leaving the floor.

He was assessed a technical, and Bryant missed the resulting foul shot at the beginning of the third quarter.

"I don't want to talk about it because I don't want to get fined," Wallace said when asked what happened.

Otherwise, he would only say, "They came out with a good game, that's the bottom line."

Notes: Grant said before the game his sore left knee was only "70-75 percent." Nevertheless, he surpassed his 8.5-point scoring average in the game's first eight minutes. ... While the Lakers finished the regular season with eight straight victories to win the Pacific Division title and move up to the No. 2 seed in the West, the Blazers won only three of their last 10 to drop to seventh. ... Bryant sustained a bruised rib late in the first quarter in a collision with Wallace, and was treated in the Lakers' locker room before returning four minutes into the second period. ... O'Neal scored 31 or more points in the last 11 regular-season games, and grabbed 10 or more rebounds in the final 17. ... The Lakers led 51-48 at halftime despite unproductive performances from O'Neal, who went 3-of-12 from the field in scoring 10 points, and Bryant, who was 0-for-7 in scoring three.

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