Clippers drop sixth straight

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Portland Trail Blazers coach Maurice
Cheeks was hurt and frustrated after his confrontation with Darius

His team wanted to win the game for him.

The Blazers did, shrugging off the drama behind Miles'
suspension to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 90-86 on Friday night.

Miles was suspended by the team for two games Friday after an
argument with Cheeks earlier the day before. Team officials would
not comment on the nature of the confrontation, except to say that
there was one.

According to The Oregonian newspaper, Miles repeatedly called
Cheeks a racial epithet and shouted that he didn't care if the
Blazers lost 20 games in a row.

Many of the Blazers said they felt they needed to rally around
Cheeks, who was outwardly shaken up by the incident.

"Coach is a great guy and he hates when it comes to something
like this with the players, because he's all for the players,"
said Theo Ratliff.

Damon Stoudamire had 18 of his 22 points in the second half for
the Blazers, who trailed much of the game, and were down by 12 in
the third quarter.

"They had to dig down and find something inside them to win
that game," said Cheeks, who also admitted, "I wanted that one
more than normal."

Elton Brand had 26 points and 12 rebounds for the Clippers, who
have lost six straight and nine of 10 on the road. The Clippers
haven't won in Portland since 1999.

"Disappointing loss for us," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy
said. "I thought we did a lot of good things, but we missed a ton
of open shots."

The Blazers, who had lost 13 of their last 16, got great
defensive performances from big men Joel Przybilla and Ratliff.
Przybilla had 10 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks, and Ratliff
had seven blocks.

The Blazers made just eight of their first 29 shots, and trailed
48-40 at halftime.

The game turned when Stoudamire, 2-of-9 shooting in the first
half, got hot in the third quarter, finding his jumper and scoring
nine points.

The Blazers fought back to 66-63 and then Stoudamire hit a
21-footer early in the fourth and Portland took a 70-69 lead.

Two Ruben Patterson layups made it 85-77, before Stoudamire hit
four free throws in the final 13 seconds to put the game away.

Miles, who signed a six-year, $48 million contract with the
Blazers in the offseason, will also sit out Tuesday's game against
the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center.

In a statement released by the Blazers, Miles said: "I would
like to apologize to all of our Trail Blazer fans for not being a
part of the team these next two games. Things were said in
frustration and I am sorry for that."

He did not apologize to Cheeks in the statement. General manager
John Nash would not comment on that, but said, "Darius will be
welcomed back to the team at the conclusion of the suspension."

Bobby Simmons scored 16 points for the Clippers despite 3-of-14
shooting in the second half. Rookie Quinton Ross had 10.

Game notes
The Clippers activated C Chris Wilcox from the injured list
before the game, but he did not play.... Blazer G Derek Anderson,
who has been sitting out with tooth problems, has had three root
canals this week. ... A fan held a sign that read: "Free Darius."


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