Blazers Crush Clippers


In just a few minutes, Scottie Pippen showed why the Portland Trail Blazers gladly gave up six players to get him.

Damon Stoudamire had 23 points and nine assists and Pippen shrugged off a slow start to score 22 Wednesday night as the Portland Trail Blazers cruised past the Los Angeles Clippers 121-98.

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  • "It was just one of those nights where, in the first half, they didn't need my scoring," said Pippen, who had just three points at halftime but scored 16 in the third. "I just tried to contribute in other ways."

    Pippen bailed out of Houston because he was frustrated with the Rockets' plodding halfcourt offense, but appeared to be back in his element Wednesday night, running the floor and finishing the fast break like his old Chicago days.

    Stoudamire is no Michael Jordan, but he did what he does best pulling up for short, uncontested jumpers and weaving around defenders near the basket for difficult bank shots.

    "My job is a lot easier on this team," said Stoudamire, who has let Pippen and Steve Smith shoulder some of the point guard duties so he can do more scoring. "You can see how I'm benefiting from the players we have."

    All five starters scored in double figures for the Blazers, who shot 61 percent from the field for their second straight easy victory. Portland, expected to challenge San Antonio for the Western Conference title, beat Vancouver by 20 Tuesday night.

    Smith scored 22 points, center Arvydas Sabonis had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and Greg Anthony dded 15 points.

    Clippers rookie Lamar Odom was again impressive, scoring 23 points one night after getting 30 points and 12 rebounds in a loss to Seattle. Odom, who was guarded by Pippen most of the night, was just 5-of-17 from the floor but made 12 of 14 free throws.

    "We didn't want Odom to get off lightly," Blazers coach Mike Dunleavy said.

    Odom, 19, was slightly star-struck playing against Pippen.

    "That was cool, real cool," Odom said. "You've got to come out of the state of being in awe. After I settled down, it was a great matchup. I learned so much from watching him play, how to always move."

    Maurice Taylor added 22 points and Derek Anderson had 16.

    During pregame introductions punctuated with fireworks and columns of shooting flames, the sellout crowd of 20,584 cheered loudest for Pippen, who came to Portland in a trade for Walt Williams, Kelvin Cato, Stacey Augmon, Ed Gray, Carlos Rogers and Brian Shaw.

    Playing with a sprained left index finger, Pippen was short on his early shots, but got hot when the Blazers began to run in transition. He scored 12 points in the first 5:10 of the third, when the Blazers stretched an eight-point lead to 92-78 entering the fourth

    His leaping rebound, followed by a drive to the basket and free throw, gave the Blazers a 90-74 lead with 1:32 left.

    The Clippers, who already look much-improved over the team that finished 9-41 last season, trailed only 48-44 at one point the first half but gradually wore down.

    Stoudamire scored 17 in the first half as Portland took a 59-51 lead.

    "We did some good things tonight, even though we couldn't keep up with them," Clippers coach Chris Ford said.

    Notes

  • Clippers center Michael Olowokandi was held to eight points and just one rebound.
  • Portland, passing the ball much better than last year, had 32 assists to just eight for the Clippers.
  • The Blazers have won 10 of their last 11 against the Clippers.
  • Los Angeles was one of only three teams to beat the Blazers in the Rose Garden in 25 games last season; Utah and San Antonio were the others.

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