Blazers win second straight to force Game 6


DALLAS (AP) -- The Portland Trail Blazers are trying to carve a
new image: The never-say-die underdogs.

The Blazers, faced with the daunting prospect of trying to win
four straight elimination games, rode the return of Scottie Pippen
to a 103-99 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night to
get within 3-2 in their first-round series.

Despite not leading for the first 46 minutes, 55 seconds, the
Blazers didn't give up. That attitude was typified by Rasheed
Wallace, who didn't flinch after leaving a 3-pointer short.

The rebound came right to him, and Wallace nailed a second try
from nearly the same spot to put Portland up 99-98 with 1:05 left.
The Blazers led the rest of the way, sending the series back to
Portland for Game 6 Friday night and continuing their quest to
become the first NBA team to overcome a 3-0 deficit.

"We're just hooping it up, nothing else,'' said Wallace, who
scored 18. "Y'all wrote us off. We're the only cats that believe.
We're going to keep doing what we're doing.''

The Mavericks have to figure out how a series that was going so
right has gone so wrong, so fast -- and how to stop it.

"It's no time to panic,'' said Dirk Nowitzki, who led Dallas
with 35 points -- 13 in the fourth quarter. "We've already won one
up there, and now we've got to go and steal another one.''

"We have to get back to playing confidently, like we did in the
first three games,'' said Mavs point guard Steve Nash, who
continued to struggle with his shot. "We're still a good team and
we're still up 3-2.''

Until the final stretch, Dallas' lead was only challenged when
Portland tied it at 2, 66 and 69. Each time, the Mavericks answered
with a basket on their next possession.

But they were out of answers after Wallace's go-ahead shot.

Ruben Patterson blocked a layup by Eduardo Najera, leading to
two free throws by Zach Randolph that stretched the lead to 101-98
with 39 seconds left.

Nowitzki had a chance for a three-point play that could've tied
it as Wallace hacked him and fouled out. But Nowitzki missed a
short bank shot -- then clanked his first foul shot. The second free
throw became the only point Dallas scored in the final 2:36.

Arvydas Sabonis sealed the victory by tipping in a miss by Bonzi
Wells with 10.3 seconds left, making it a four-point game. It was
the only field goal for Sabonis, who missed the previous game with
a back injury and played only nine minutes. He went in as Wallace's

As the game ended, Portland's Damon Stoudamire threw up his arms
and let out a scream that could be heard across the court as the
stunned crowd of 20,438 -- a third straight team record -- turned

"It was a great win,'' said Stoudamire, who had 19 points,
eight rebounds and four assists. "We feel like we've made it a
series. Before this, it wasn't. We're going home with a lot of momentum.''

A source of Portland's energy wears No. 33, owns six
championship rings and hadn't played since the opener.

Pippen returned in the second quarter, but lasted only three
minutes. After halftime, he rode a bike behind the bench to loosen
up, then went in for the final 15 seconds of the third period -- and
never came out. He finished with nine points, five assists and two
rebounds. It was as effective as he's been in four games since returning from surgery on his left knee.

"I did all right for an old man,'' Pippen said. "I'm keeping
it live.''

Randolph had 22 points and nine rebounds, both team-bests. Wells
had 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Wallace had 14
points and four rebounds.

Nash followed a scoreless Game 4 with seven points. He went
2-for-11 -- with one of the makes coming on a goaltending -- but
contributed 11 assists.

Finley, coming off a seven-point game, had 13 of Dallas' first
17 but finished with 15 points and only three rebounds. He played
only the final 1:05 in the fourth quarter.

Nick Van Exel buoyed the offense with 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting, and Najera had eight points and five rebounds.

Dallas missed a chance for a sweep by getting outscored 33-10 in
the third quarter of Game 4.

This time, the fourth quarter was the difference as the Blazers
won it 32-22, outscoring the Mavs 12-3 in the final 3:46.

"We just couldn't get a stop,'' Nowitzki said. "We just
couldn't find a way to guard them in the last couple of minutes.
That's where you win games.''

Game notes
The Blazers won the rebounding battle 48-32 and had 26
second-chance points, a byproduct of their hustle. ... Wallace and
Dale Davis got technicals in the first 1:48 of the third quarter,
neither anywhere near the ball. ... The Mavericks missed a chance
to wrap up a playoff series at home for the first time since May
19, 1988, when they knocked off Denver in six games in the second
round. ... The Blazers improved to 8-3 when wearing the red road
uniforms they last wore regularly in 1984-85.