Pippen scored seven points in a span of 37 seconds late in the
game as the Blazers extended their winning streak to 11 with an
85-78 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
"He made every big shot that we needed," coach Maurice Cheeks
Portland shot just 37 percent, its lowest figure of any game
during the streak, but Pippen compensated by making a 22-foot
jumper, a 3-pointer and two free throws to put the Blazers ahead
81-73 with 1:16 left.
"I think the last few games that we've played have been like a
playoff atmosphere," Pippen said. "I think everyone's trying to
knock us off our winning streak, and we're on a high right now."
Rasheed Wallace added 28 points and 15 rebounds, but he had only
eight points after halftime. Almost lost in the frenzied finish was
three big blocks -- one by Wallace and two by Dale Davis -- earlier
in the quarter.
"I believe that's our staple right now," Cheeks said.
"Defense is what we're starting to be known for. We have pretty
good offensive players, but there are going to be nights where
we're not going to shoot the ball well."
The Blazers now are 12-1 since the All-Star break. They were
five games below .500 on Jan. 2, but now have pulled to 2½ games
of fifth-place San Antonio in the West. They're three games behind
Minnesota for the fourth spot.
"I know how it is when we win a lot of games in a row,"
Garnett said. "We got that fire in our eyes, so we didn't
anticipate anything less than what went on tonight."
The Timberwolves trailed 74-67, but rallied to close to a point
on Garnett's 15-foot jumper. Pippen, who had thrown the ball away
on his previous possession, hit his two jumpers and then grabbed a
rebound before Garnett threw him down with one arm as he headed up
Pippen sank both free throws, then another after Chauncey
Billups made a 3-pointer. Pippen finished with 14 points.
Cheeks put four reserves on the floor to start the fourth
quarter, and Pippen didn't even come in until there were five
minutes remaining, to spell Derek Anderson.
"I got my opportunity to get back in the game, and I just kind
of let it flow," Pippen said.
The Blazers' winning streak ties for the second-longest in
franchise history. They had won 11 in a row twice before, the last
time between Feb. 4-27, 2000.
A difficult over-the-shoulder layup off the glass by Garnett put
Minnesota up by five early in the fourth, and Trent's hook shot
gave the Timberwolves their last lead at 67-66 with 7:24 left.
Portland then scored eight in a row, capped by Bonzi Wells'
hanging layup. Wells had 14 points.
Portland got 20 first-half points from Wallace, but the rest of
the starters shot just 4-for-23. On defense, the Blazers gave up
several uncontested baskets, and Trent topped his season average by
scoring eight points over a 5:10 span of the first quarter.
Wallace came back in the second period with five baskets in
seven attempts. His 3-pointer capped a 15-4 run that put the
Blazers ahead 40-31. Wally Szczerbiak then scored all five of his
first-half points in the last three minutes, cutting the lead to
42-38 at the break.
The Blazers had lost their first two meetings with the
Timberwolves. Their 113-103 defeat Feb. 6 was the most lopsided of
their six setbacks since Jan. 2. ... The Timberwolves had won four
in a row in the series and seven of eight. ... Minnesota had a
46-24 advantage in points in the paint.