Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 12/11

Game 1: Tuesday, December 11th
Trail Blazers103Final
Game 2: Wednesday, February 13th
Trail Blazers114
Game 3: Thursday, March 14th
Trail Blazers132
Game 4: Tuesday, April 9th
Trail Blazers96Final

Trail Blazers 96

(46-32, 18-21 away)

Mavericks 108


    Coverage: FSSW

    7:30 PM ET, April 9, 2002

    American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    POR 28 24 21 2396
    DAL 34 22 23 29108

    Top Performers

    Por: B. Wells 26 Pts, 9 Reb, 2 Ast

    Dal: R. LaFrentz 15 Pts, 11 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl, 5 Blk

    Pippen, Wallace tossed as Mavs roll

    DALLAS (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks knew the Portland Trail Blazers didn't think they were tough. How'd they know? Several Portland players called Mavs guard Nick Van Exel and told him so.

    Nick Van Exel

    Nick Van Exel, left, and Scottie Pippen mixed it up but only Pippen got ejected.

    Van Exel reminded his teammates of the comments before Tuesday night's game, then scored 21 points to help Dallas beat Portland 108-96 in a game where the Blazers' emotions and aggression got the best of them.

    Scottie Pippen was ejected with 2:11 left for throwing a punch at Van Exel, Rasheed Wallace was tossed with 58 seconds left in the third quarter for his second technical foul -- both for arguing with officials. Bonzi Wells got a flagrant foul in the first quarter that helped Dallas take control.

    "They approached us like we're soft," Van Exel said. "I'm getting all the phone calls from their players about how they're going to do this to us and do that to us, and I told the guys before the game, `This team really feels we have no heart.' That's a terrible situation to be in. You never want anybody to feel that toward you."

    Michael Finley scored 27 points, while Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas' top scorer and rebounder, watched in street clothes with a sprained ankle suffered Monday night in a victory over Utah.

    This was the Mavs' fifth win in six games and it stretched their lead in the Midwest Division to a full game over San Antonio. So Dallas might not be the toughest team in the NBA, but it is one of the best.

    "Being soft -- if this was boxing, that's one thing. But this is basketball," said center Raef LaFrentz, who had 15 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. "Sometimes you need to be physical, sometimes you need finesse. This group here, they went for skill rather than physical bruisers."

    When the teams met March 14, Portland, which had just ended a 12-game winning streak, led by 46 en route to a 132-106 victory. That game was physical, too, with Dale Davis getting ejected and later fined and suspended for throwing a punch at Shawn Bradley.

    This time, the Blazers went away from their inside game and couldn't keep up with the Mavericks. Portland lost for the fifth time in seven games.

    "We need to come out and play with more energy," said Pippen, who had 10 points. "We didn't start the game with the energy and the focus we needed. I thought we could pound the ball inside with Rasheed and Dale, but we didn't use that game. We tried to run and shoot with this team and that's not to our advantage."

    Wells had 26 points and nine rebounds and Wallace had 16 points and six rebounds.

    Neither Wallace nor Pippen would discuss their ejections, but coach Maurice Cheeks addressed the subject of officiating -- a hot topic considering the Blazers also had three technicals and a flagrant foul in a loss to San Antonio on Monday night.

    "We've got to stay off the referees," Cheeks said. "I'd say we let the referees take us out of our game. Referees are human. They're going to make mistakes, both ways. When you're losing you think everything is going the other way."

    The whistles started blowing when Wells threw an elbow to Finley's head while coming down after biting on a pump fake. Finley hit both free throws to put Dallas up 29-26.

    The Blazers, who never led again, were within 79-76 after a layup by Ruben Patterson, but Wallace said something to an official and picked up his second technical, an automatic ejection. His first one came a minute into the second quarter for jawing at officials while at the scorer's table, waiting to come into the game.

    Portland was within 89-86 with 5:14 left when Finley hit a 3-pointer and later added three free throws after being fouled by Pippen on a 3-pointer.

    With 2:11 left, Pippen and Van Exel had just crossed midcourt when they collided. Arms started flying and the players had to be separated. Van Exel got a technical, Pippen got two. As he left the court, he took the ball from an official, but bounced it back several steps later.

    "He started twisting my arm," Van Exel said. "I gave him a shot and he gave me a shot back."

    Mavericks coach Don Nelson also got a technical foul during the first half.

    Game notes

    Wallace had 26 technicals and two ejections this season. ... Davis and Bradley hardly squared off as Bradley played only seven minutes. ... The Mavs have 54 wins, second-most in team history. They have five games left to try breaking the club record of 55. They're also 31 games over .500 for the first time in franchise history. ... Dallas is 7-0 when Eduardo Najera starts. He replaced Nowitzki.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press