Shareef's 25 and 10 help Portland end 6-game skid

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Interim coach Kevin Pritchard peeked into
the Trail Blazers' locker room well after his first career victory,
still clutching the game ball.

"One of the officials ran it over to me," Pritchard said.
"This means a lot to me. I can't tell you how much this ball means
to me."

Pritchard directed Portland to an 80-66 victory over the Memphis
Grizzlies on Saturday night, his first win since taking over the
team following Maurice Cheeks' firing. Pritchard, the director of
player personnel, lost his first four games and the Blazers had
lost six in a row overall.

Former Grizzlies star Shareef Abdur-Rahim led Portland with 25
points and 10 rebounds, and Richie Frahm added 14 points.

Lorenzen Wright had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Grizzlies
in their lowest-scoring game of the season.

"When the ball won't go in, you can't do anything about it. But
you have to keep putting it up," Wright said. "You have to keep
getting attempts and hope some of them fall."

Memphis remained in the playoff picture despite being banged up.
Former Blazers player Bonzi Wells was placed on the injured list a
week ago by Memphis because of a herniated disc in his back.
Stromile Swift has a sprained left ankle, and coach Mike Fratello
said there was no telling when leading scorer Pau Gasol will return
from a foot injury.

Still, the Grizzlies have won five of their last seven games and
are seventh in the Western Conference, ahead of Denver and Los
Angeles Lakers. Memphis beat Utah 94-82 Friday night.

The Blazers also are banged up. Earlier in the day, the team
placed guard Nick Van Exel on the injured list with an arthritic
left knee. Guard Damon Stoudamire sat out with a strained right
hamstring and forward Zach Randolph was still resting with soreness
in his right knee.

But Pritchard has turned his focus to developing young talent
like draft pick Sebastian Telfair now that the playoffs are all but
an impossibility.

The losses still stung, although Pritchard said he tried to make
light of the situation in a recent conversation with team general
manager John Nash.

"I told John that if we go 0-27 I might go to the Hawaiian
islands and never be seen again," he said.

Memphis led by as many as 10 points early but Portland, using
some quirky lineups, came back to go up 32-25 on Joel Przybilla's
dunk, and then a pair of free throws.

After leading 40-35 at halftime, the Blazers struggled to hold
off the Grizzlies until Abdur-Rahim's long jumper gave Portland a
46-45 advantage and spark an 11-2 run capped by Frahm's 3-pointer.

"I'm just happy for the young guys," Abdur-Rahim said. "They
played well, and I think they can go home and feel good about

Memphis guard Jason Williams sprained his right ankle in the
first half. He did not return and is listed as day-to-day.

Game notes
The Blazers dropped the season's first two meetings against
the Grizzlies. ... Portland signed free agent guard Maurice Baker
to a 10-day contract to fill Van Exel's roster spot. Baker signed a
10-day contract with the Los Angeles Clippers in February, and
played a minute in one game. He also played for the Dakota Wizards
of the Continental Basketball Association, averaging 17.4 points
and seven assists in 34 games. ... Blazers rookie center Ha
Seung-Jin, the first South Korean player to appear in the NBA,
scored his first career points on a layup with 15.3 seconds left.


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