Point of interest
Blazers focus on shutting down Kidd
Posted: Friday May 07, 1999 08:52 PM
That's why Stoudamire will be getting plenty of help from his friends Saturday when the teams begin a first-round playoff series.
"He's playing like he's the best point guard in the NBA," Stoudamire said of Kidd, one of a handful of serious contenders for MVP. "But I thrive on these kind of challenges."
The 6-foot-4 Kidd has six inches on Stoudamire, the shortest player to ever wear a Blazers uniform. Kidd also has gotten more attention after having his best NBA season, with career highs in scoring (16.9), assists (10.8) and rebounds (6.8). Stoudamire has picked up his game recently, but he still finished with career lows of 12.6 points, 39.6 shooting and 6.2 assists.
"If I know Damon, he's coming to play," Rider said. "But it's not going to be The Damon and Jason Show."
Jackson, who played with Kidd in Dallas for two seasons (1994-96), said the Blazers can't let him get into a rhythm.
"You've got to make Jason work," Jackson said. "You can't give him anything easy, because he's the kind of guard that's going to look to pass and set up his teammates first. And you can't let Jason get hot from the outside, because once he gets his outside game going, he's tough to stop."
If Rider and Jackson, Portland's tag-team shooting guards, are on Kidd, that leaves Stoudamire or a combination of players to handle 6-4 Rex Chapman.
Of Portland's three victories over Phoenix this season, Chapman missed two because of injury and was tossed from the other game. But he's back now, and in recent games against Utah and Houston scored 23 and 22 points, respectively.
"He's a great shotmaker, one of the best in the league," Portland coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Even when you're defending him well, he has the ability to make the shot."
Portland has to worry more about Phoenix's outside shooting than its inside game. The Blazers outrebounded the Suns 147-98 in the three games.
"We have to take advantage of our size," Jackson said. "They have guys that are smaller but quicker, that can shoot the perimeter shot, so I think we have to pound the ball inside. We get a lot of offensive rebounds and easy baskets. That takes a lot of pressure off of us, and that takes them out of their fast break."
The teams have been fixtures in the playoffs throughout this decade, with the Blazers making the postseason 17 straight times and Phoenix 11 straight. The last time they met, the Suns won 3-0 in a 1995 first-round series. Against each other, they have 11 wins each in the playoffs.
The Blazers have lost in the first round of the playoffs the last six years, but didn't have homecourt advantage in any of those series.
"Now it's a sense of urgency," Rider said. "It's a sense of, we want to win, rather than we're happy to be here. Now we realize that we're favored to win. We're supposed to win. So it's time to take care of business."
As the No. 2 seed, the Blazers have history on their side. The No. 7 seed has knocked off the No. 2 only four times since the playoff format went to 16 teams in 1984.
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