Pick up the pieces
Blazers look to recover at home
Posted: Wednesday June 02, 1999 01:42 AM
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The Western Conference finals don't resume until Friday, and the Portland Trail Blazers will need every minute of the layoff to repair their psyche.
"I think it is the toughest loss that we've had all season," Damon Stoudamire said. "But the good thing about this is ... we've got three days to regroup, and then they're going to come into a hostile environment in Portland."
The Blazers couldn't help but be rattled by Monday night's 86-85 loss to San Antonio in Game 2. After all, they didn't trail in that game for 47 minutes and 51 seconds. Then Sean Elliott stood on his tiptoes, his feet barely in bounds, and hit the 3-pointer that gave the Spurs a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.
It seemed to Portland's players that fate just wouldn't let them beat San Antonio. Four times this season the Blazers have taken the Spurs to a tight finish, only to lose.
"It took incredible shots to beat us," Portland coach Mike Dunleavy said. "I'd give [Elliott] 100 bucks to see him make that shot again. It was one of those shots you dream about making ... I told the guys they have nothing to hang their heads about. It's getting harder and harder for this team to beat us."
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich says the momentum of the miracle comeback from an 18-point third-quarter deficit probably won't last until the weekend.
"If we were coming back and playing tomorrow it would be huge," he said. "But Friday is like 2 1/2 weeks from now. Nobody will even be able to remember this game."
The Spurs won't fly to Portland until Wednesday afternoon, after they've worked out in San Antonio.
The Spurs' eight-game playoff winning streak will be tested in the noisy Rose Garden, where the Blazers lost just three times during the regular season and are 5-0 in the playoffs.
Still, Portland must win four out of five, including at least once in the Alamodome, to advance to the finals.
"I don't see why we can't," Greg Anthony said. "We're a real confident basketball team. We're a real talented basketball team."
The Blazers are at least comforted by the fact they weren't run out of the Alamodome. They lost the opener 80-76 and had a chance at the tying shot with six seconds to go. They led Game 2 comfortably most of the way and lost only because of an amazing shot.
The Spurs' grudgingly gave the Blazers credit, but they want a little for themselves, too.
"They played two terrific games," Mario Elie said. "They had a chance to win both games, but people seem to not give us credit. They said what Portland did wrong, what the Lakers did wrong. I just want to hear what the Spurs did right."
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