PORTLAND, Oregon (Ticker) -- Let's hope it was a playoff preview.
In a game that had just about everything, the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in double overtime, 128-120, as Bonzi Wells scored 33 points and made all the big plays down the stretch.
"I don't hate them as people but I love to beat them," Wells said. "I hate to lose to them."
You name it, this game had it. Portland's Scottie Pippen was ejected in the second quarter after flinging the ball into the stands. The Trail Blazers erased a big fourth-quarter deficit and forced overtime on a perfectly designed inbounds play by a rookie coach.
In the first overtime, the Lakers built an eight-point lead, then blew it after the referees put time back on the clock to correct their own mistake. On the verge of losing, Los Angeled forced a second extra session as Derek Fisher ignored some serious taunting to make two free throws in the final second.
Wells took charge in the second overtime, finding fresh legs when Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Lakers appeared finally to wear down. Wells had a steal and breakaway dunk, two free throws and a driving dunk to give the Blazers control for good.
"We gave it away twice -- in regulation and in the first overtime -- so I thought it was appropriate that it finished the way it did," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "You can't have that many lives out there on the court."
The Trail Blazers won despite committing five technical fouls and a flagrant foul. Following Pippen's ejection, Rasheed Wallace -- who leads the NBA with 26 technicals -- actually acted as peacemaker.
"Technicals are nothing new for this team," Wells said. "We don't even talk about them. We're a very emotional team, a very aggressive team. Sometimes, when you have emotion like that out there, you scare people. Maybe we scared them."
About all the game was missing was Hack-a-Shaq, which O'Neal neutralized by making 10-of-13 free throws.
"This was a jacked-up game, from the officiating to the plays that we ran," Lakers forward Robert Horry said. "It was just a wacky game."
"It was kind of wild affair, like street ball," Blazers guard Steve Kerr said.
The nationally televised game lasted a marathon 3:19 and rekindled a rivalry that had been one-sided of late. Portland has been eliminated from the playoffs by Los Angeles in each of the last two seasons and the teams could meet again in the first round of the playoffs if the current seeds hold.
"Everybody says, 'You don't want to see the Lakers,'" Blazers forward Ruben Patterson said. "I'm not scared of them and I know my teammates are not scared of them. If we go out there and play hard and do the things we did tonight, we can beat anybody."
"We feel fine," Bryant said. "It's a game that we let slip away, and we know that."
Wallace had 25 points and 13 rebounds and Patterson added 17 and 10 for the Blazers (48-33), who cannot finish any lower than sixth in the Western Conference.
O'Neal had 36 points and 11 rebounds and Bryant scored 23 points for the Lakers (56-24), who are third but could drop to fourth if they finish with a worse record than Dallas.
Lindsey Hunter's 3-pointer gave LA its largest lead at 85-72 with 9:51 left in the fourth quarter and the Laker still held a 94-84 lead on O'Neal's turnaround jumper with 5:42 to go. But Wells, who scored 18 points in the period, had two free throws and a 3-pointer in a 9-0 run that made it a one-point game.
"Bonzi has been great the last few games," Cheeks said. "He has the mind-set that he can score on anybody and he's beginning to show me that he can."
With 3:16 left, O'Neal made two free throws. Between the shots, Patterson was called for a technical when he threw Rick Fox to the floor while the two battled for position.
On the next possession, Horry returned the favor, receiving a technical after a shoving match with Patterson. A 3-pointer by Wallace pulled Portland into a 97-97 tie with 3:01 to play.
"When we get into a heated battle, sometimes it gets out of hand," Cheeks said. "We're not the only team that does that. But ours can be a little magnified because we are the Blazers."
Two short jumpers by Bryant gave the Lakers a 103-99 lead with 43 seconds left. Wells made a 3-pointer and Bryant made two free throws for a 105-102 edge before Portland called time with 4.9 seconds remaining.
Wells threw a crosscourt inbounds pass to Wallace, who had worked a double screen with Kerr. He was wide open when he caught the ball on the right wing and drained the tying shot with 2.5 seconds left. Horry missed a 3-pointer at the horn.
Fisher and Horry had 3-pointers around a banker by O'Neal as the Lakers ran to a 113-105 lead with 2:06 left in the first overtime. After a basket and missed free throw by Patterson, the teams traded empty possessions and Portland appeared dead, down six with just over a minute to go.
But referee Bennett Salvatore, responding to complaints from Portland's bench, checked a previous foul call against O'Neal and found that it had put the Lakers over the limit. He restored 23 seconds to the game clock and put Wallace on the line for two free throws with 1:34 to play.
A steal by Wallace led to a layup by Damon Stoudamire. Patterson stripped Bryant and went in for the tying layup with 49 seconds left. And after O'Neal missed, Wells put home Wallace's missed 3-pointer for a 115-113 lead with 4.7 seconds to go, completing a second stunning comeback.
With a foul to give, Stoudamire inexplicably fouled Fisher in the act of shooting with 0.8 seconds left. Fisher made the first, then spent 30 seconds trying to ignore the taunting and stalking of Patterson and Wells before sinking the second.
Wells' steal and breakaway dunk with 4:01 left in the second overtime gave the Blazers the lead for good. He made two foul shots before Kerr's 3-pointer provided a 124-117 lead with 2:27 remaining.
Wells answered O'Neal's basket with a thunderous driving dunk. Patterson added another after two from the line by Stoudamire as Portland pulled away in the final minute.
"It was a heckuva a game, win or lose," Cheeks said. "But when you win it, it's a helluva game."
Stoudamire had 18 points and 12 assists for the Blazers, who shot 48 percent (47-of-98) from the field and made 10-of-28 3-pointers. Wells made 4-of-6 from the arc and Wallace sank 4-of-13.
Fisher scored 14 points and Fox added 12 for the Lakers, who shot 45 percent (39-of-87) and made 11-of-23 3-pointers. Los Angeles surrendered 35 points on 20 turnovers.
The Lakers held a 45-42 lead with 2:20 left in the first half when Pippen reacted to what he thought was a foul call by throwing the ball, discus-style, into the stands. Salvatore immediately hit him with a technical, then another for arguing.
"Scottie's been around long enough," Cheeks said. "He understands about officials. So he truly believed that he was right."
Pippen, who had been the best player in the game to that point with 14 points and five assists, walked off the court, flinging his wristbands and headband into the stands. The Rose Garden crowd responded by tossing dozens of Bill Walton stuffed dolls -- given away as part of a 25th anniversary celebration of Portland's 1977 championship team -- onto the court.
"He just chucked the ball up in the stands and then they started throwing Bill Walton dolls," Bryant said. "I'm telling you that scared the hell out of me."
Wallace stood next to Salvatore, hoping his presence would shield the referee.
"All you have to do is walk on the floor and you're a calming force on this team," Kerr said. "It's nuts. It's just unbelievable with all the technicals, yelling and screaming."
Portland scored just one basket the rest of the half and fell behind, 52-45. LA took a 77-70 lead into the fourth quarter and did not trail again until late in the first overtime.