Shop Fantasy Central Golf Guide Email Travel Subscribe SI About Us NBA Playoffs

 
  CNNSI.com
  Finals Home
NBA Draft
Other NBA News
Scoreboard
Daily Schedule
Prev. Rounds
Bracket
Almanac
Team Pages
Team Histories

EVENTS
 Sportsman of the Year
 Heisman Trophy
 Swimsuit 2001

CENTERS
 Fantasy Central
 Inside Game
 Multimedia Central
 Statitudes
 Your Turn
 Message Boards
 Email Newsletters
 Golf Guide
 Cities
 Work in Sports

CNNSI.com GROUP
 Sports Illustrated
 Life of Reilly
 Television
 SI Women
 SI for Kids
 Press Room
 TBS/TNT Sports
 CNN Languages

COMMERCE
 SI Customer Service
 SI Media Kits
 Get into College
 Sports Memorabilia
 TeamStore

Dreadful drought

Blazers' dry spell allows Lakers to take Game 7

Click here for more on this story

Posted: Monday June 05, 2000 09:32 PM

  Rasheed Wallace, Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal L.A.'s Shaquille O'Neal gets Portland's Rasheed Wallace (left) and Jermaine O'Neal in the air with a pump fake. AP

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- On the brink of one of the greatest collapses in NBA playoff history, the Los Angeles Lakers found the heart so many suspected they didn't have.

In just over 10 magnificent minutes, the team that almost blew it all mounted the biggest fourth-quarter comeback ever in a Game 7.

"It took everything we had," Lakers forward Glen Rice said. "We were down 15, and time was running out. The big thing was we didn't panic."

Los Angeles, on the verge of losing three straight games for the first time all season, went on a 15-0 run to erase that 15-point Portland lead and went on to beat the Trail Blazers 89-84 Sunday and win the Western Conference championship.

Before Sunday, the biggest comeback in a Game 7 was a mere six points.

"This is what makes champions,"' Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. "We watched Game 7s growing up all the time, and to finally play in one is a real thrill."

Los Angeles advances to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1991 with Game 1 on Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers in the Staples Center. The Lakers will be hard-pressed to top this one, though.

The home-court advantage the Lakers earned with 67 regular-season victories proved invaluable as Los Angeles mounted its memorable rally.

Blazers at Lakers
Click the image to launch the clip

Shaquille O'Neal and the Lakers erase the Blazers' late double-digit lead to advance to the NBA Finals. Start (2.0 M .mov)
Multimedia Central
Click here to go to Multimedia Central for all the latest video and audio.
 

"Game 7s are very interesting, but I've never seen any quite like that one before," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who is trying to bring a title to Los Angeles after winning six with Chicago.

Shaquille O'Neal, rendered ineffective most of the game by Portland's double- and triple-teaming defense, scored nine points in the fourth quarter, punctuating the rally with a thundering dunk on a lob pass from Bryant that put Los Angeles ahead 85-79 with 40 seconds to play.

The usually unemotional O'Neal waved his index fingers at the crowd with an amazed expression on his face as he ran downcourt.

"They were playing their best ball the whole game, and we were just scratching and clawing," O'Neal said. "The Blazers are a fabulous team, and this is probably a rivalry that's going to last throughout my entire career."

O'Neal had 18 points and nine rebounds and was 8-of-12 from the free throws line, including two that tied the game 77-77 with 2:44 to play.

"My father once told me that even if you shoot 99 percent and don't make the ones you're supposed to make, nothing else matters," O'Neal said.

Bryant, the other half of the superstar tandem that is supposed to lead this franchise back to its historic greatness, had 25 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and four blocked shots. He made just six of 12 free throws, but he sank two from the line to put the Lakers ahead for good, 81-79, with 1:34 remaining.

 
Righteous Rallies
Biggest Game 7 comebacks after the third quarter
Season  Team  Opp.  Points  Round 
2000  Lakers  Blazers  13  conf. finals 
1979  Bullets  Spurs  conf. finals 
1975  Warriors  Bulls  conf. finals 
1973  Lakers  Bulls  2nd round 
 

Brian Shaw made three crucial 3-pointers for the Lakers, one at the end of the third quarter and two during the big fourth-quarter rally. He and Rice each scored 11 points.

Rasheed Wallace scored 30 points on 13-for-26 shooting but had six of the Blazers' 13 consecutive misses during the Lakers' run that wiped out a 75-60 lead. Wallace also missed two free throws with Portland trailing 81-79 with 1:25 to go.

Scottie Pippen, brought to Portland to provide the leadership the team needed to win a championship, fouled out with 25 seconds to go with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He was just 3-of-10 from the field.

Steve Smith scored 18 points for Portland but was just 1-for-5 from the field in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers trailed 71-58 after three quarters but outscored Portland 31-13 in the fourth. After shooting 50 percent through three quarters, the Blazers shot 22 percent in the fourth (5-for-23).

"We did a lot of things right most of the night," Portland coach Mike Dunleavy said, "but in the fourth quarter, we just couldn't make shots."

After Ron Harper made one of two free throws to put the Lakers ahead 86-82 with 32 seconds remaining, Smith drove the lane, but the ball was knocked away with no foul called.

Bryant missed two free throws with 25 seconds to go, but again Portland couldn't capitalize. Robert Horry, who was 4-for-6 from the line in the final minute and scored 12 points, made two free throws with 17 seconds to go to boost the lead to 88-82, and the Blazers were finished.

Pippen, who has six championship rings but none without Michael Jordan as a teammate, scored nine points in the first quarter but made one of seven shots after that.

"It's tough to swallow right now, and I'm sure it will be all summer," Pippen said.

But he said the fourth-quarter failure shouldn't obscure how the Blazers fought back in this series.

"Nobody expected us to push them so hard. Nobody gave us a chance when we were down 3-1," Pippen said. "There's more to feel proud of than there is to be down about."

The Trail Blazers, who had beaten the Lakers twice in Los Angeles in the playoffs, were trying to become the seventh team to come back from being down 3-1 to win a series and the first to do it in the conference finals.

Most of the evening, they looked as if they would.

As had been the case throughout the series, Portland took an early lead.

Damon Stoudamire, Smith and Pippen hit consecutive 3-pointers in a 13-0 run that put Portland ahead 19-9.

The Lakers cut it to three late in the second half, the last time on Bryant's stuff shot that made it 42-39 just before the halftime buzzer.

Los Angeles outscored Portland 10-4 to start the third quarter to go ahead 49-48 on Rice's drive to the basket for a three-point play with 6:22 left in the period.

Wallace's two free throws put Portland back ahead 50-49, then Rice made a 19-footer to give Los Angeles a 51-50 lead.

Then, led by Smith, the Blazers took over.

Smith scored the first seven points, and 10 overall, in a 21-4 run that put the Blazers up 61-55 on Pippen's 3-pointer, his only basket after the first quarter, with 20 seconds left in the third quarter. Shaw's banked 3-pointer made it 71-58 after three.

The Lakers showed no signs of mounting that big finish early in the fourth quarter. Bonzi Wells made two free throws with 10:28 to play to give Portland a 75-60 lead.

But O'Neal's basket started the big run, then Shaw hit a 3 and the biggest 10 1/2 minutes of the Lakers' season had begun.

When it was over, Pippen went to Harper, his old Chicago teammate, and said something.

"I just wished him good luck," Pippen said, "and said 'Go win them a championship.'"

Notes: O'Neal took just nine shots and made five. ... The Lakers and Indiana split two games in the regular season. ... The Lakers won the season series with Portland 6-5. ... The Blazers were never called for an illegal defense, despite Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson's pre-game lobbying. ... Portland center Arvydas Sabonis fouled out with 2:44 to go. ... The Lakers haven't won a title since 1988.

 
Related information
Stories
Blazers down Lakers to force Game 7
Talking Trash: Conference Finals
One-on-One: Shaq on Shaq
45 Seconds: Portland's Rasheed Wallace
Stats
Lakers-Blazers Game Summary
Multimedia
Blazers coach Mike Dunleavy is pleased with his team's Game 7 effort and intensity. (152 K)
Los Angeles' Shaquille O'Neal explains what he did to give his teammates a wake-up call. (176 K)
Lakers coach Phil Jackson credits the fans for the role they played in his team's fourth-quarter comeback. (170 K)
Los Angeles' Kobe Bryant recalls how his team approached the double-digit deficit. (128 K)
Portland's Scottie Pippen isn't proud of his team's lackluster effort down the stretch. (98 K)
O'Neal feels the Lakers have yet to accomplish their goal. (96 K)
Jackson believes Sunday's game showed his team there's room for improvement. (102 K)
Bryant emphasizes avoiding pressure and anxiety at all costs. (110 K)
Visit Multimedia Central for the latest audio and video
Search our site Watch CNN/SI 24 hours a day

Sports Illustrated and CNN have combined to form a 24 hour sports news and information channel. To receive CNN/SI at your home call your cable operator or DirecTV.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


CNNSI Copyright © 2001
CNN/Sports Illustrated
An AOL Time Warner Company.
All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.