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Payton, Cassell work well in rallying past Blazers

2/24/2003

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Gary Payton's debut with the Milwaukee
Bucks was a triumphant one.

Sam Cassell made two free throws with 10.1 seconds left as the
Bucks overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the
Portland Trail Blazers 93-90.

"It feels great,'' said Payton, who had 22 points and nine
assists. "I got a lot of burden off me now, I got my coach back.
These guys I got around me now are like family. It's gonna be all
good like that.''

Payton played his first game since being traded from Seattle
along with Desmond Mason on Thursday in a deal that involved Ray
Allen going to the SuperSonics.

Damon Stoudamire, who had not played all game, missed a
potential tying 3-pointer with about three seconds left. Milwaukee
rebounded and ran out the clock.

"Basically, we were trying to get it to someone else in that
situation,'' said Blazers guard Derek Anderson, who was 5-for-8 on
3s. "It just so happened they switched off and gave him the open
look.''

Stoudamire said the game wasn't decided on his final shot.

"We didn't lose this game because of that shot, we lost because
we had another lapse down the stretch,'' he said.

Tim Thomas had 19 points and five rebounds for Milwaukee, which
snapped a four-game losing streak. But it was Payton that everyone
wanted to talk about.

"He knows how to play basketball and it's very contagious,
especially defensively,'' said Bucks coach George Karl, who coached
Payton in Seattle from 1991-98. "I saw our guys play defense in
their stance more tonight than we've done all year long.''

Payton and Cassell were on the court together often during the
game, and the duo combined for 38 points and 17 assists. Cassell
finished with 16 points and eight assists.

Game notes
Grammy-nominated Nivea performed the national anthem and at
halftime. ... Karl is one win behind Red Holzman for 14th on the
all-time wins list (695). ... Payton passed Portland coach Maurice
Cheeks for seventh on the all-time assists list (7,392). He needs
six steals to pass Alvin Robertson for seventh on the all-time
steals list (2,112). ... A large cheer erupted when it was
announced infamous area native Tonya Harding had lost her pro
boxing debut.