PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The old "taking them too lightly" excuse
didn't seem to work for the Portland Trail Blazers. Not after the
kind of loss they endured Monday night.
Most of the prominent Blazers didn't even try to explain their
stunning 103-100 defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies, who rallied from
19 points down in the fourth quarter. That left the reserves to try
to make sense.
"There's no explanation for that," said Shawn Kemp, who
started in place of the injured, badly missed Rasheed Wallace.
"It's like getting in a fight; you've just got to take that one on
the chin. It's just the way it is sometimes."
Rodney Buford scored 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter,
and rookie Will Solomon added 10 in the period as the Grizzlies
outscored Portland 39-17 in the fourth quarter.
"This was unbelievable," coach Sidney Lowe said. "This was
just a great effort by our guys, just hanging in there and
continuing to play and not giving in."
Lorenzen Wright scored 21 points to lead the Grizzlies, who had
lost six straight and 15 of 17. Memphis (18-52) began the night
just a half-game ahead of Chicago for the league's worst record.
The Grizzlies trailed by as many as 25 late in the third
quarter, making this the biggest comeback in the franchise's
seven-year history. The previous largest was 23 points in a win
over New Jersey in January 2000.
"At the end, it felt like we were in the driver's seat," said
Shane Battier, who had 10 points and was the only Memphis starter
in double figures. "If we can keep that feeling, we can start
winning some games."
Bonzi Wells scored 34 points to lead the Blazers, and he had a
chance to tie the game in the final seconds. Trailing 100-97, Wells
missed two free throws, but grabbed his own rebound on the second
He ran toward the 3-point line, turned around and swished the
shot with 6.4 seconds left, but the officials ruled Wells' foot was
inside the line, giving the Grizzlies a 100-99 lead.
Battier inbounded to Buford, who got free for an easy dunk to
make it 102-99. Damon Stoudamire was fouled and made one of two
free throws, intentionally missing the second. Kemp fouled on the
rebound try, and Wright made one of two from the line for a 103-100
lead with 1.9 seconds left.
Stoudamire got the ball with one last chance, but his
desperation 3-pointer was too high.
"We stopped playing with probably 10, 11 minutes left in the
quarter," said Portland's Steve Kerr. "They're like any other
team in the NBA, they've got some talented players. They may not
have a good record, but they have guys who can play, and we let
them believe they could win, and by the time they got back in it,
we had lost our offensive rhythm. And, of course, without Rasheed
to go to down the stretch, we weren't quite comfortable with what
we were doing."
Wallace was not in uniform because of a lower back strain.
Memphis, which had lost its two previous games to Portland by a
combined 52 points, outscored the Blazers 39-17 to earn just its
seventh road victory of the season.
It was a bitter defeat for the Blazers (43-27), who had won 17
of 19 to climb into the fifth layoff spot in the Western
Even after they let the big lead slip early in the fourth
quarter, a jumper by Derek Anderson put the Blazers ahead 87-73
with 8:52 left.
Portland then went cold, going the next 5:04 without a point,
and the Grizzlies went on a 19-2 run.
The Blazers were in complete control early, making eight of
their first 10 shots. Consecutive 3-pointers by Stoudamire and
Wells put them ahead 30-7 just 8:40 into the game.
The lead grew to 24 in the second quarter before the Blazers got
sloppy and Memphis went on a 17-4 burst. Jason Williams made a
3-pointer and two long jump shots, and Pau Gasol's jumper cut it to
Memphis got within 11 again early in the third quarter, but the
Blazers responded with a 16-2 run. Scottie Pippen and Wells each
hit 3-pointers, and Pippen capped the run with a putback and
fast-break jumper to make it 75-70 with 4:46 left in the period.
The Blazers fell to 11-3 in March. They had been
threatening the franchise record for victories in March, 13, set in
1996-97. ... The Blazers had won eight straight at home.<
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