Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 12/13

Game 1: Saturday, December 13th
Trail Blazers112
Game 2: Tuesday, February 17th
Trail Blazers86Final
Game 3: Tuesday, April 6th
Trail Blazers91Final
Game 4: Wednesday, April 14th
Trail Blazers104

Trail Blazers 91

(40-37, 16-23 away)

Lakers 80

(53-25, 32-7 home)

    Coverage: FSW

    7:00 PM ET, April 6, 2004

    STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    POR 37 14 20 2091
    LAL 21 19 22 1880

    Top Performers

    Portland: Z. Randolph 22 Pts, 9 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Los Angeles: S. O'Neal 17 Pts, 12 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 Blk

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

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The game should have been important to both the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers.

    Only the Blazers played like it.

    Damon Stoudamire scored 24 points, and Zach Randolph had 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists Tuesday night as the Blazers defeated the Lakers 91-80 to give their playoff hopes a boost.

    The Blazers (40-37) won for the 10th time in 14 games to move within a half-game of Utah for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff berth. Portland and Denver are tied for ninth place.

    "This was a high-level game for us from start to finish," Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks said.

    "We just know how important these games are," Randolph said. "This is a big momentum boost for us, to beat one of the best teams."

    The Lakers sure didn't fit that description in this game. The loss was their second straight following an 11-game winning streak, and put a damper on their hopes of gaining the conference's top seed in the playoffs.

    The Lakers (53-25) are in third place in the West, 1{ games behind Sacramento, one game behind Minnesota and a half-game ahead of fourth-place San Antonio.

    The Lakers and Timberwolves have four games left; the Kings and Spurs five.

    "Tonight was terrible -- I can't explain it," Karl Malone said.

    "I've seen prettier games -- I've definitely seen prettier games," Rick Fox said. "Our incentive to win right now is no different than the Portland Trail Blazers' -- even though they're fighting for the eighth spot."

    Even though the Lakers played one of their worst games of the season, they were within six points early in the fourth quarter. But Shareef Abdur-Rahim scored six points and Stoudamire added five during an 11-0 run that gave the Blazers an 82-65 lead with 6{ minutes remaining to put the game out of reach.

    Derek Anderson had 17 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, and Darius Miles added 14 points for the Blazers, who shot 50 percent.

    "We needed this -- it's definitely a game that we needed," Anderson said. "Every game, we need. It's like the playoffs. They're in. If you're not in, you can't do anything. We needed it more than they did."

    Shaquille O'Neal led the Lakers with 17 points and 12 rebounds, but shot 3-of-10 from the foul line. Kobe Bryant had 12 points, six rebounds and eight assists, shooting 5-of-23.

    "It was just one of those nights," Bryant said. "The ball was slipping through our hands. We were missing a lot of easy shots. We just have to put this behind us."

    Gary Payton also had 12 points and Malone and Fox added 11 each for the Lakers, who shot 39.7 percent.

    Cheeks said the Blazers didn't do anything special defensively on Bryant.

    "Kobe just had a tough night," Cheeks said. "Those things are going to happen. We tried to challenge his shots. For the most part, I think he just an off night."

    Randolph scored four points during an 8-0 run that gave the Blazers a 65-48 lead midway through the third quarter. Fox, averaging 4.7 points, then scored eight during a 14-6 run to finish the period, trimming Portland's lead to nine.

    Stoudamire made three 3-pointers, Randolph added six points and Miles and Dale Davis scored four each during a 25-2 run that gave the Blazers a 33-15 lead, prompting boos from the home crowd and putting the Blazers ahead for good.

    It was 37-21 entering the second period. The Blazers' 37 points were the most they've scored in a first quarter this season and the most the Lakers have allowed in an opening period.

    The Blazers led 51-40 at halftime.

    Game notes

    Portland is in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1982. The Blazers' streak of 21 straight postseason appearances is the second-longest in NBA history and the second-longest active streak in major league sports. The St. Louis Blues have appeared in the NHL playoffs 25 straight years. ... Lakers coach Phil Jackson hopes Kareem Rush (injured right foot) and Horace Grant (hip flexor strain) will be ready to come off the injured list and play Friday night against Memphis. Grant sounded less optimistic. "I'm like this," he said, fingers crossed on both hands. "I did a little bit yesterday. It went well. (But) I woke up, it was pretty sore." He said he felt better after stretching, but didn't do any work Tuesday. ... The Lakers play two of their last four games at home, with road games Sunday at Sacramento and Wednesday at Portland. ... The Blazers play three of their last five at home, but making the playoffs figures to be tough considering they play the Lakers, at Denver, and twice against streaking San Antonio.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 91 80
    FGM-FGA 38-76 (.500) 31-78 (.397)
    3PM-3PA 5-12 (.417) 5-19 (.263)
    FTM-FTA 10-11 (.909) 13-22 (.591)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-39 17-40
    Assists 25 24
    Turnovers 20 20
    Steals 14 8
    Blocks 9 5
    Fast Break Points 7 9
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 18 (0/0) 17 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Zach Randolph Randolph
    Points: 22
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1
    Shaquille O'Neal O'Neal
    Points: 17
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 3