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Pippen: 'If I speak the truth, what can they say'

12/18/2002

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Even after beating one of the Eastern
Conference's best teams, the Portland Trail Blazers still can't
shake questions about their off-the-court problems.

Bonzi Wells scored a season-high 30 points, and Rasheed Wallace
had 22 points and 13 rebounds as the Blazers beat the New Orleans
Hornets 102-93 Tuesday night.

Afterward, Portland co-captain Scottie Pippen stood by critical
remarks he made about Blazers management published earlier in the
week in the Chicago Tribune, saying he was telling the truth.

Pippen, who had 11 points and eight assists, described the
acquisition of Shawn Kemp as "the worst move in pro sports."

He also said Portland owner Paul Allen and president and general
manager Bob Whitsitt "don't want to win. They're just trying to
excite the crowd" by acquiring new players.

"They've done the wrong things for the community, because they
broke up a team the fans could get behind," Pippen went on to say.
"You've got to build relationships. You've got to build chemistry.
We'll win some games, but when the dust settles, we'll be under the
dust."

After the game, Pippen was unflinching, saying the organization
knows he's telling it like it is.

"If I speak the truth, what can they say?" Pippen said. "I've
been saying it all along, it just finally got publicized. It's very
obvious what's going on."

Pippen, who moved past Dave Bing into 45th place on the NBA's
career scoring list, started and was welcomed as usual by the fans.
When asked whether he thought the chemistry problems can be fixed
this year, Pippen bristled.

"I'm not the one fixing it," he said. "You've got to ask
Whitsitt that, and Paul. I'm not the one fixing it, I'm just
playing."

Wells was somewhat defensive when asked about Pippen's feelings,
not wanting to give the impression of dissent.

"I know in my gut we can win a championship, and we need
everybody in this locker room to have that same type of attitude,"
Wells said. "I know Scottie didn't really mean that. I know you're
trying to start something. I ain't going to talk about our leader.
I'm not even going to disagree with him."

Jamal Mashburn led the Hornets with 22 points and eight
rebounds. Baron Davis added 21 points and six assists. Jamal
Magloire had 15 points.

"We didn't play worth a damn tonight," Hornets coach Paul
Silas said. "I just don't like what I see from us right now. We
weren't committed tonight."

New Orleans, which has three games remaining on a seven-game
trip, has lost two in a row.

"It's kind of like we self-destructed," Davis said. "We can't
come out here on the road, give up 100 points and expect to win.
Right now we're not playing any defense."

Portland pulled ahead thanks to a 12-5 third-quarter run that
put some distance between the two teams after what had been a very
close game to that point. There were 16 ties and 10 lead changes
before the Blazers finally built a lead.

"It was a quality win for us, because I think we displayed some
fight," Cheeks said.

Blazers guard Damon Stoudamire attended his first home game
since announcing a $250,000 donation to Portland Public Schools to
help save spring sports from budget cuts.

Stoudamire, who has been booed loudly at recent home games, did
not play because of an illness, the same ailment that kept him out
of the second half of Saturday's win over Minnesota.

Game notes
Tuesday's game was the lone home date in a stretch of eight
games for Portland. The Blazers have a pair of home games on either
end of the Christmas break, followed by another four-game Eastern
swing. ... Portland has won six of seven against the Hornets and is
22-8 all-time. ... Pippen has 18,329 points.

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