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1999 NBA Playoffs

'We choked'

Portland loses after blowing 18-point lead

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Posted: Tuesday June 01, 1999 01:40 AM

  Oh, that stings: Damon Stoudamire reacts after the Trail Blazers let Monday's game slip through their fingers. AP

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- The Portland Trail Blazers dominated the San Antonio Spurs for 47 minutes, 51 seconds before everything came crashing down with Sean Elliott's off-balance, game-winning 3-pointer.

After enjoying an 18-point lead, and appearing as though they were headed to a victory on San Antonio's home court, the Blazers watched their lead evaporate Monday.

The Spurs edged closer as the clock ran down and finished the game with a 10-3 run capped by Elliott's bomb from the sideline as Portland's Rasheed Wallace surged toward him.

"That last shot by Sean Elliott was incredible," Blazers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "I'd give him a hundred bucks to see him make that shot again. It was one of those shots you dream about making."

The Spurs took their only lead of the game on Elliott's sixth 3-pointer and won 86-85 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference finals.

Game 3 is Friday at Portland's Rose Garden.

Though most Blazers-Spurs games this season have been close, Dunleavy described Monday's outcome as "gut-wrenching."

A dejected Isaiah Rider said: "We choked. We choked."

"This was our game. We should have won it," added Blazers forward Brian Grant. "It just hurts right now."

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said the hard-fought game was typical of the teams this season.

"This was like every game we've had with Portland all year. It was a war," he said. "We go after each other."

Jim Jackson and Walt Williams both missed shots in the final seconds for Portland. Jackson tried to take it to the basket and draw contact but was forced into a short jumper. No foul was called.

"I definitely got the look I wanted," Jackson said. "If the ref doesn't call it, no matter what I think, it wasn't a foul."

Williams then missed with the rebound.

The Trail Blazers came out strong and led 31-20 after the first quarter and 48-34 at halftime. Portland upped its lead to 52-34 early in the third quarter.

But then the Spurs went to work chipping away. A 14-0 run midway through the third quarter took a big chunk out of the lead and pulled the Spurs within 56-51. But the Blazers kept holding San Antonio back and led 67-60 entering the final quarter.

"It's definitely disappointing," Portland guard Greg Anthony said. "This was possibly a gift, but that's basketball. Our guys battled, but they came out with the plays."

Grant said losing the large lead was where the Blazers lost the game, not simply on Elliott's huge shot.

"We had a big lead. They cut it. That's where the game was lost," he said. "We just didn't close it out."

The Blazers can only hope to put the devastating defeat behind them as the series shifts to Portland. They'll have until Friday to try and do it.

"They don't have the upper hand on us," Anthony said. "We'll see them on Friday."

 
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