Work in Sports
Time to improvise
Blown out 103-85, Jazz fall in 0-2 series hole
Posted: Wednesday May 10, 2000 02:34 PM
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- By the time the lead reached 33, the Portland Trail Blazers were laughing and their fans were chanting, "Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!"
That's what they think of Utah's chances to come back and win a series that's been overwhelmingly one-sided so far.
Steve Smith scored 19 points to lead six Blazers in double figures as the Trail Blazers jumped to an early lead and poured it on in the second half Tuesday night for a 103-85 victory and a 2-0 lead over the listless Jazz.
"Because of our defense, we got easy layups and high-percentage shots, and everything started clicking," said Smith, who made six of eight shots. "It seemed like the ball just kept rolling in and going in for us."
While the Blazers' fans might be presumptuous, everything they've seen so far gives them reason to believe Portland will advance to the Western Conference finals for a showdown against the Los Angeles Lakers, who beat Phoenix by 18 in Game 1 of their series.
"This is the best I've seen a team play since I've been with Utah, as far as I can remember, for 15 years," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said of the Blazers, who shot 56 percent. "They just annihilated us defensively."
Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is Thursday night at the Delta Center.
While Utah is just 1-14 in the playoffs in Portland, it has beaten the Blazers 10 of 13 times in Salt Lake City. Still, that didn't provide any comfort to the Jazz.
"I thought we had a few guys in our locker room who thought we had a chance," Sloan said. "I'm not sure we have anybody now."
The Blazers, who outscored Utah 29-14 in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 94-75 victory, allowed just 16 first-quarter points Tuesday night to squelch any hope of a Jazz comeback.
Greg Anthony scored seven points during a 10-0 run that put the Blazers ahead 41-22, and the lead kept growing from there. A hook shot by Jermaine O'Neal, playing his first minutes of the playoffs, made it 93-63 with 7:37 left in the game. The lead reached 33 on Bonzi Wells' three-point play. Karl Malone was held to just 15 points, barely half of his playoff average this season. Yet his total actually led the Jazz. Bryon Russell had 12 points, and the other three Jazz starters combined for 13.
"We have to figure out a way to score," said Jazz guard Jeff Hornacek, who scored two points on 0-for-3 shooting. "It seemed like it was just helter-skelter out there for us. I don't know. I have no answers."
Blazers coach Mike Dunleavy was wary of the team becoming overconfident.
"We've done nothing here but hold serve," he warned. "We've done what we're supposed to do. The pressure was all on us. Now we've got to go into Utah and try to find a way to win a game there."
After Sunday's loss, Utah needed a quick start, and it didn't come. The Jazz committed two turnovers on their first three possessions and were outscored 13-6 in the last half of the period.
Rasheed Wallace hit a long jumper, and Scottie Pippen followed with a 3-pointer to give the Blazers a 20-12 lead. Wallace hit a short turnaround jumper, then followed his own miss as Malone flopped on the floor for a 24-14 lead.
It only got worse for the Jazz after that.
The Blazers' reserves dominated the second period as Anthony and Detlef Schrempf combined for 19 points, matching the entire Jazz team's output.
Anthony schooled John Stockton at both ends of the floor during a key 10-0 run. First, Anthony hit a 17-footer, got fouled by Stockton and converted the free throw to make it 34-22.
On the next possession, Stockton was stripped of the ball by Anthony, who then hit a short running jumper. After the Jazz let the shot clock run out, Anthony got fouled by Stockton and made both free throws.
Schrempf made a 3-pointer to cap the run and extend the lead to 41-22 with 5:08 left. Anthony later hit a 3-pointer, and Smith finished the Blazers' 32-point quarter with a long jumper for a 56-35 halftime lead.
"Our bench was big," said Pippen, who took just four shots and scored five points. "They controlled the game for us. They came in and played with a lot of intensity and a lot of energy."
The Jazz briefly came to life in the third, cutting it to 15 on a 19-foot jumper by Stockton. But Damon Stoudamire hit a midrange shot and, after Malone lost the ball, drove for a layup to build the lead to 66-45.
Smith, who had 11 points in the quarter, hit a 3-pointer with 33.8 seconds left to make it a laugher at 80-55.
Notes: Utah has led for just three minutes and 28 seconds in the
series, all early in the first quarter. ... The Blazers scored 27
points off 17 Jazz turnovers. Utah got 11 points off 18 Portland
turnovers. ... Wells scored 15 of his 17 points in the garbage-time
fourth. ... Jazz reserve guard Howard Eisley is just 7-for-31 in
Utah's past five playoff games.