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Blazers a half-game behind Jazz for No. 8 spot

3/28/2004

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The Portland Trail Blazers are right back
in the playoff race.

Zach Randolph had 25 points and nine rebounds to lead the
Blazers to a 115-108 overtime victory over the Seattle SuperSonics
on Saturday night.

Damon Stoudamire added 23 points and eight assists for Portland,
which is ninth in the Western Conference, a half-game behind Utah
for the final playoff spot.

"You can't beat this race for the playoffs," Portland center
Theo Ratliff said. "You can't ask for anything better than this
because everybody is playing at a high level right now."

Ray Allen had 32 points for the Sonics, who had a seven-game
winning streak snapped. Rashard Lewis added 24 points, and Ronald
Murray had 19.

"That was a heck of a game," Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks
said. "Both teams were up and down making shots. We made shots
when we had to and so did they."

Portland scored the first four points of overtime, but Allen
made a 3-pointer to make it 109-108.

Portland's Derek Anderson hit a 22-footer from the top of the
key, and Theo Ratliff made one of two free throws to give Portland
a four-point lead with 31 seconds left. Seattle's Brent Barry
passed up a dunk on the other end, trying to pass off to Allen, but
the ball bounced off Allen's arm and out of bounds.

Portland looked like it was going to miss the playoffs for the
first time in 22 seasons, starting the month on a five-game losing
streak. But the Blazers are 8-3 in their last 11 games.

Seattle, which trailed 87-80 with 6:29 remaining in regulation,
took advantage of the Blazers' fourth-quarter defensive lapses to
take a 98-95 lead with 53 seconds left.

Anderson hit a 3-pointer from the corner to tie it for Portland,
but Ronald Murray drove for a dunk, putting Seattle up 100-98.
Randolph scored inside for the Blazers with 6.3 seconds left to tie
it, and Vladimir Radmanovic missed a 3 from the corner as time ran
out on regulation.

Allen was 6-of-8 on 3-pointers and scored 19 of his points in
the second half.

"For the majority of the game, we made the right plays," Allen
said. "Shooting was one thing, it was our defense on the other
end."

Barry finished with 10 points and 12 assists.

Anderson had 21 points and seven assists for Portland. Ratliff
had a season-high 18 points, nine rebounds and six blocks.

Game notes
Portland has won at least 37 games in the last 30
regulation-length seasons. ... The Blazers signed 6-foot-7 swingman
Desmond Ferguson to a 10-day contract Friday, and placed guard Omar
Cook on the injured list. Ferguson most recently played for the
Rockford Lightning of the CBA. ... Portland won the last meeting,
95-85 at home on Feb. 8.