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Lakers 106, Blazers 88
A House United
LOS ANGELES April 26(AP) -- The Portland Trail Blazers started like winners, and finished like losers.

Shaquille O'Neal had 32 points, 12 rebounds and five assists Thursday night as the Los Angeles Lakers rolled to a 106-88 victory over the Blazers, giving them a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.

Bryant outdueled Wallace in the Lakers victory Thursday.
AP Photos TV highlights: 28k | ISDN+
"Our main problem is Shaq," Portland's Damon Stoudamire said. "Right now, he's a man among boys."

The Blazers came out fast, making 13 of their first 16 shots -- many from long range -- but in the end, it didn't mean a thing.

It got ugly in the fourth quarter, when two Portland players were ejected, including Rasheed Wallace, the NBA's technical foul king, and the Blazers were hit with five technicals.

"They tried to get us out of our game a couple times with a couple of cheap shots," O'Neal said. "I think the league should have done something about this kind of play a long time ago."

Kobe Bryant added 25 points and seven assists, and Rick Fox had 19 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals for the Lakers.

Game 3 in the best-of-five series will be played Sunday in Portland, where a fourth game is scheduled Tuesday night, if needed.

Only five teams have rallied to win a best-of-five series after losing the first two games since the NBA instituted the current format in 1984.

The Lakers haven't lost as many as three in a row since coach Phil Jackson took over before last season. That's a span of 189 games, including the playoffs.

"We haven't done anything yet," Jackson said. "We have Sunday and Tuesday opportunities up there in Portland to close this thing off, and we'd like to do that."

With the Lakers leading 84-72 and 8:46 to play, Portland's Dale Davis was called for a flagrant foul and ejected for elbowing Robert Horry.

The Lakers scored the next five points, and the Blazers didn't threaten after that.

"Just frustration, that's all," Horry said of Davis. "He got upset because we kind of hit each other when he was going to the basket. I still think he's a great guy. It was just one of those things."

The game got so out of hand that when Stoudamire was hit with a technical foul with 5:46 left, O'Neal was given the opportunity to shoot it, and he made it to the cheers of the Staples Center crowd of 18,997, putting the Lakers ahead 92-75.

"I asked to shoot it," O'Neal said. "I wasn't shooting at the line the way I'm supposed to. I'm not sending any messages."

A little over a minute later, Scottie Pippen picked up a technical foul and Wallace, who set an NBA record with 41 this season, was assessed two, calling for automatic ejection.

Pippen led the Blazers with 21 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Wallace added 17 points and Steve Smith scored 16.

"Defensively, there isn't much we can change, we just have to play better," Pippen said. "Now is not the time to be concerned. We need to win a ballgame and try to get some confidence within ourselves."

O'Neal scored five points and assisted on a layup by Fox in the opening three minutes of the third quarter to give the Lakers a 62-49 lead.

Wallace picked up his fourth foul with 5:05 remaining in the third period and Los Angeles leading 71-59, and sat out the rest of the quarter, which ended with the Lakers ahead 80-65.

The Blazers' quick start resulted in a 29-21 lead. Then, they turned stone cold, hitting just two of their next 16 shots and being outscored 29-13 to fall behind 50-42 with 45 seconds left before halftime.

"Their defense obviously had something to do with that," a worn-looking Portland coach Mike Dunleavy said.

Brian Shaw's 3-pointer with less than a second left in the half gave the Lakers a 55-46 lead -- largest for either team to that point.

"There's no mystery to the game," Dunleavy said. "They controlled the glass, and got themselves into the open court. They beat us basically to every loose ball tonight, we were just too careless with the ball."

The Lakers outrebounded the Blazers 48-32.

About the fourth quarter, Dunleavy said: "It's a physical game in there, I'm sure there was a lot of frustration."

Pippen, who had 13 points in the Lakers' 106-93 win in Game 1 and later complained about being a minute part of the Blazers' offense, came out firing, scoring nine points in the first seven minutes and 15 in the first half.

Notes: The Lakers extended their winning streak to 10 games including the last eight of the regular season, while the Blazers are going in the other direction, having lost nine of their last 12. ... The game was the 200th in the playoffs for Pippen in his 14-year career -- second-most in NBA history behind former Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who played in 237. ... O'Neal was named a repeat winner of the IBM Award on Thursday. The award is determined by a computerized rating that measures a player's overall contribution to his team. ... The Lakers' first-round playoff record after winning the first game is 26-1. ... Smith and O'Neal had a brief skirmish with 11:01 remaining and were assessed double technicals. No punches were thrown. The Davis-Horry episode took place less than 2 minutes later.

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