Work in Sports
PORTLAND, Oregon (Ticker) -- Too big, too deep, two-zip.
Again using their size and bench to their fullest advantage, the Portland Trail Blazers trounced the Utah Jazz, 103-85, to take a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series.
Steve Smith scored 19 points and Bonzi Wells added 17 for the Blazers, who had six players in double figures, including three off the bench. They shot 56 percent (36-of-64) from the field and thoroughly outclassed the Jazz.
"It was probably one of our better games of the year in terms of attacking the rim and moving the ball," Blazers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "It was a real businessman-like game."
"This is the best I've seen any team play since I've been at Utah," said Jerry Sloan, who has been coaching the Jazz for 15 years. "Portland annihiliated us defensively. We couldn't get the ball to the basket. It wouldn't make any difference what we did. They had control of us all night."
Portland started quickly and never let up. It opened a 10-point lead in the first quarter, shot 63 percent in the first half, repelled a Utah rally in the third period and sat its starters for the final seven minutes.
"We needed a game like this where we could take control and not have to battle this team for a full 448 minutes," Blazers forward Scottie Pippen said. "We pretty much took them out of the game in the first half."
The Blazers held the Jazz's reliable trio of Karl Malone, John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek to just 26 points. Utah trailed by at least double digits over the final 31 minutes and by 33 in the fourth quarter as it looked old and overmatched.
"Their defense was tremendous tonight and they fed off that," Stockton said. "They're a great defensive team. We couldn't get any easy baskets tonight."
Game Three is Thursday at Utah, where the Jazz are undefeated in the postseason. However, the Blazers won at the Delta Center in last year's conference semifinals and during this season.
"These guys (Portland) feel good about themselves," Malone said.
"They're like sharks right now. They smell blood and they're ready to go in for the kill."
The 6-8 Smith roughed up the smaller Hornacek and Bryon Russell, making 6-of-8 shots. Rasheed Wallace used his awesome wingspan to throttle fellow All-Star Malone, limiting him to 15 points and three rebounds while collecting 14 and eight himself.
"If we play well at the 2 position (shooting guard), it kind of gets everything going because they're going to have to double that position, especially with the size advantage we have," Portland guard Greg Anthony said.
Off the bench, Wells made 7-of-9 shots in 18 minutes. Anthony and Detlef Schrempf added 13 points apiece and both were huge in the second quarter, when Portland took total control.
Arvydas Sabonis scored 10 points and Damon Stoudamire added nine for the Blazers, who hit 6-of-12 3-pointers and scored 27 points off 17 turnovers by the Jazz.
"We try to exploit whatever it might be," Stoudamire said.
"Tonight I thought everybody did a good job of not settling for deep jumpers and trying to make things happen."
Russell scored 12 points and Jacque Vaughn added 10 for Utah, which shot 45 percent (33-of-73), made 3-of-11 from behind the arc and was outscored 25-16 at the foul line.
Wallace shot down any chance of the Jazz getting off to a quick start by scoring 12 points in the first quarter, most of them against Malone. He made four straight jumpers before following in his own miss to give the Blazers a 24-14 lead with 34 seconds to go in the period.
Anthony, who had a big fourth quarter in Game One, converted a three-point play, a layup and two free throws before a 3-pointer by Schrempf made it 41-22 with 5:08 left in the second period.
Schrempf scored six more points in the quarter, which ended with Portland holding a 56-35 lead. The Blazers made 19-of-30 shots and got 21 points from their bench.
The Jazz tried to get it going in the third quarter, closing to 60-45 with 8:35 left on a jumper by Stockton, who had nine points and six assists. Wallace had a tip-in and Stoudamire made a jumper and layup to rebuild the lead to 66-45 with 6:20 to go.
Smith scored 11 points and Stoudamire seven in the period, which ended with Portland holding an 80-58 lead. Wells scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, including a three-point play that gave the Blazers their largest lead at 99-66 with 5:52 left.
"The game was good not only because of the rest we got but we had a chance to get some guys in," Smith said. "Bonzi came in and gained a lot of confidence from playing well."