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Blazers Beat Suns

The Portland Trail Blazers put on another impressive fourth-quarter show, and the Phoenix Suns couldn't keep up.

Brian Grant had 22 points and 14 rebounds, and Portland's reserves keyed an early fourth-quarter run as the Trail Blazers beat the fatigued Suns 97-84 Thursday night.

"We ran out of gas in the fourth quarter," said Phoenix coach Danny Ainge, whose team staggered down the stretch one night after beating the Lakers 106-101 in Los Angeles.

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  • "Give the Blazers credit. They killed us on the glass. They wore us down tonight, and the Lakers wore us down last night, even though we won that one."

    Portland outrebounded Phoenix 56-31, and the Suns' Tom Gugliotta, Clifford Robinson and Luc Longley were no match for Blazers big men Grant, Rasheed Wallace and Arvydas Sabonis.

    "It was not all that pretty tonight," Grant said. "But me and Rasheed did a great job negotiating the boards. That gave us a great chance to win."

    Wallace added 15 points and a season-high 13 rebounds, and Damon Stoudamire had 19 points and eight assists for the Blazers, who won their fifth straight and 15th in 17 games.

    The Blazers, now 13-1 at home, improved their NBA-best record to 22-5 and boosted their lead in the Pacific Division to four games over the Lakers.

    Robinson scored 21 points and Danny Manning added 17 for the Suns, who became the 11th straight opponent to shoot under 50 percent against Portland. In the fourth quarter of their last five games, the Blazers have given up 13, 17, 16, 15 and 15 points.

    "The Lakers may have bigger names and better talent as far as their starters, but the Blazers have no drop-off," Gugliotta said. "In another way, the Blazers play better. They share the ball, and there's no strife out there."

    Backups Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony scored 11 of the Blazers' first 12 points in the fourth to push a five-point lead to 86-73 with 5:16 left.

    hoenix had just one field goal in the fourth quarter until George McCloud's 3-pointer made it 89-80 with 1:07 remaining.

    Jason Kidd had 13 points and eight assists for the Suns, but had five turnovers.

    Portland led by as many as 11 in the third quarter, but the Suns responded with a 7-1 run, and Robinson's hook shot cut it to 74-69 heading into the fourth.

    Augmon hit a jumper to open the period, followed by a fastbreak layup by Anthony to make it 78-69. A tip-in by Augmon and a 3-pointer by Anthony after Jim Jackson hustled after a loose ball made it 86-73.

    After a jumper by Manning with 8:44 left, the Suns went 7:37 without a field goal. During that time, Phoenix missed five of 11 free throws and Rex Chapman was ejected after getting two quick technical fouls.

    Portland went on a 15-5 run to go ahead 65-56 with 5:26 left in the third. Isaiah Rider had five points during the run and Wallace had four, with both sinking a 3-pointer.

    Phoenix led by as many as six points in the second quarter, but Portland tied it at 47 by halftime on a late burst by Stoudamire.

    Stoudamire hit a 3-pointer to pull the Blazers within 44-43 with 1:13 left in the half, then went coast to coast for a layup and dished to Grant for a dunk with 20.4 seconds left.

    Stoudamire had been struggling, hitting just 37 percent of his shots.

    "We've talked about our game in the shower," Rider said of Stoudamire. "I tell him to hang in there, and he's told me to hang in there. We're both just trying to get through the bumps. This could have been a breakout game for him."

    Notes: The Suns' Tom Gugliotta got so frustrated in the first half (when he shot 2-of-8 and let Grant score 17 points) that he smacked an errant pass out of bounds, hitting a woman in the second row square in the face. ... The teams meet again in Phoenix on Sunday. The Suns host the Knicks on Friday night for their third game in three nights. Portland has two days off. ... Portland had its seventh sellout of the season in 13 games. Last year the Blazers sold out 10 games of 41. ... Portland is off to its best home start since going 15-1 to begin the 1990-91 season. The Blazers' best-ever home start is 26-0 in 1977-78, the year after their only title.

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