Work in Sports
Pippen, Sabonis lead Blazers to Game 1 win
Posted: Sunday May 07, 2000 10:40 PM
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The Utah Jazz were exhausted. Then Karl Malone was tired of hearing about Scottie Pippen.
Pippen scored nine of his 20 points over the final nine minutes as the Portland Trail Blazers pulled away for an easy 94-75 victory Sunday in Game 1 of their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals.
"It took us three quarters before we could really get a good feel for this team, but in the fourth quarter, our defense took over," said Pippen, who averaged 6.8 points in four regular-season games against the Jazz.
Pippen may once again keep Malone from getting a championship ring. Pippen and Michael Jordan helped the Chicago Bulls beat the Jazz in the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998.
When asked whether these kinds of games were the reason Pippen was acquired by the Blazers from Houston, Malone snapped: "I don't want to hear that," followed by an expletive. "I don't care about that. End of interview. I'm done here."
The Jazz were playing on less than two days' rest after struggling past Seattle in Game 5 of their first-round series Friday night. The Blazers had four days off, and Utah's exhaustion showed.
The Jazz missed nine of their first 10 shots in the fourth quarter and shot 33 percent for the period -- slightly worse than the 37 percent they shot for the game. But Jazz coach Jerry Sloan dismissed that the lack of rest had anything to do with his team's dismal performance.
"Our guys didn't come to play," he said. "I'll tell you right now, we didn't come to play, and this series will be over real quick if they're going to accept that.
"They had 24 hours to sleep. That's their own fault if they can't get the rest and get ready to play. We had too many days off last week. Now we get a little rest. Who cares? I don't care, because they get paid to play, and they're supposed to."
The Blazers led 65-61 to start the fourth quarter, but Pippen's aggressiveness helped put the game away.
His short turnaround jumper extended the lead to 71-63 with 8:36 remaining. Pippen hit a 3-pointer to make it 80-67, and Greg Anthony sealed it with two free throws, a layup and 3-pointer for an 87-71 lead with 3:48 to go.
"This is just one game. We don't want to read too much into it," Pippen said. "We have to do the job that we have do in this series, and that is defend the home court in all games."
Utah has lost its past 12 playoff games in Portland, dating to the 1991 conference finals.
Malone scored 22 points despite straining a ligament in his left knee on a freak play late in the second quarter. Malone was sitting on the bench when teammate Armen Gilliam dived for a rebound and crashed into Malone's chair. Malone came out limping slightly in the third quarter, but played the rest of the way.
Damon Stoudamire added 14 points, 10 in the first quarter, as six Blazers scored in double figures. Arvydas Sabonis had 14 rebounds and Brian Grant added 10.
The Blazers had a tremendous advantage at the line, hitting 26 of 27 free throws after making just eight of their first 14. Utah got to the line just 23 times, hitting 16.
The Blazers pulled away from a 12-all tie with a 10-0 run as Utah missed nine straight shots over a nearly six-minute span. The Blazers didn't make a shot over the final 3:50, and managed a 23-15 lead after one quarter.
"Our guys came out with the right intensity, the right defensive mindset, and we got off early," Portland coach Mike Dunleavy said.
Utah cut into the lead using all reserves in the second quarter. Jacque Vaughn's 3-pointer made it to 30-29 with five minutes left.
Utah's strategy was to hack at the Blazers' post players, and it worked. Utah blocked five shots in the first half, and Grant was so frustrated he threw his mouthpiece toward the Portland bench when he came out.
After Detlef Schrempf's short jumper, the Blazers went six minutes without a basket, but stayed in it by hitting 11 straight free throws.
Steve Smith scored eight points in a 10-4 run, and Rasheed Wallace tipped in a missed jumper by Stoudamire to give Portland a 44-34 halftime lead.
"They have size at every position, and it's hard," Utah's Jeff Hornacek said. "You try to get them to pull up and take shots rather than go inside, but they started making some of those shots."
The Blazers pushed the lead to 13 early in the third, but again the Jazz chipped away.
After Malone cleared out with his left arm and hit a layup, Wallace started screaming at the officials and had to be restrained by teammates. Dunleavy quickly subbed Grant for him, but before Wallace could leave the court, he said something else and was hit with a technical.
John Stockton made the technical free throw and Malone hit his free throw to cut the lead to 63-58 with 1:29 left. Utah trimmed it to four by the end of the quarter, but missed four straight free throws over the last 35 seconds -- two by Stockton.
Notes: Thirty seconds of silence were observed before the game in
honor of Blazers assistant coach Bill Musselman, who died Friday, a
month after being diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. ... Portland
is 7-0 in seven-game series when winning the first game. ... Utah's
last playoff win here was on April 30, 1988, in Game 2 of the first