Blazers Pound Grizzlies


Portland's three prized newcomers made key contributions in the Trail Blazer's season opener.

Steve Smith scored 22 points, Scottie Pippen had 14 and Detlef Schrempf added 13 as the highly touted Blazers routed the Vancouver Grizzlies 106-86 Tuesday night.

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  • "We're pretty good," said Pippen, acquired from the Houston Rockets. "Right now, there's a lot more improvement that we have to do. But for a team that has quite a few new players, we're pretty good."

    Smith, obtained in a trade with Atlanta, was 9-for-13 from the field and 3-for-4 from the foul line.

    "We're not trying to go out and make statements. We're trying to go out there and get better," Smith said. "Statements don't do anything for us at the end of the year."

    Schrempf, who signed with Portland as a free agent, finished 6-of-7 from the field for the Blazers, who were coming off an 8-0 preseason.

    Up 20-18 nine minutes into the game, the Blazers took control by outscoring Vancouver 35-13 over the next 12 minutes to build a 55-31 lead on Bonzi Wells' layup.

    Things got so onesided that Portland coach Mike Dunleavy had most of his reserves into the game by the midway point of the second quarter. Joe Kleine, who played the final two minutes, was the only Trail Blazer not to score.

    The injury-riddled Grizzlies simply weren't ready for the onslaught.

    "We definitely would have liked to get a win, but now we know where we stand," said Grizzlies center Bryant Reeves, who scored 15 points. "They're probably one of the best teams in the NBA."

    It didn't help that three of the Grizzlies' key offseason additions are on the injured list knee), Dennis Scott (hamstring) and Antoine Carr (knee).

    "We just could not get into any type of offensive flow," said coach Brian Hill, whose club committed 17 turnovers against an aggressive defense. "We did not execute what we were supposed to in attacking the trap. We are just going to have to keep working on it and get better at it."

    Shareef Abdur-Rahim scored 19 points and added 10 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who have lost four straight season openers since beating Portland in the franchise's first game in 1995.

    Dunleavy was pleased with his team's opening night performance.

    "Steve (Smith) has the ability to score, but he's more than that. He's done a good job for us as far as moving the basketball," Dunleavy said.

    Pippen also had four rebounds and three assists.

    "His value will never be in the boxscore," Dunleavy said. "He defends every night, great reads on defense. He pushes the ball. He makes plays."

    "He's the glue. I thought both he and Det (Schrempf) came in and really kept us together."

    Smith said the team has jelled quickly despite the offseason changes.

    "They brought in a lot of veteran guys who know how to play, know how to win," said Smith, who was traded for Isaiah Rider and Jim Jackson. "There's no guys here crying for individual awards or crying to make the All-Star game. We're just here to try to win championships."

    Notes

  • Prior to the game, Grizzlies president and general manager Stu Jackson doused speculation that the team will be moving anytime soon following the franchise's stalled sale to Bill Laurie. Standing at center court, Jackson welcomed the fans back to GM Place, calling it, "the home of the Vancouver Grizzlies now and in the future" to a round of cheers.
  • The Grizzlies also held a moment of silence in honor of race car driver Greg Moore, who grew up in nearby Maple Ridge. Moore was killed in Sunday's Marlboro 500.
  • Portland assistant coach Bill Musselman, who suffered a stroke last Thursday, is out of the intensive care unit and resting comfortably in a Portland hospital.
  • Prior to the game, the Blazers players elected Pippen and Smith as co-team captains.

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