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Jermaine O'Neal didn't have a lot of time to change the game.

And he didn't need it.

The 21-year-old forward scored 13 points in 13 minutes, pulling down a team-leading eight rebounds on Sunday night to lead the Portland Trail Blazers to a 100-94 victory over the Boston Celtics.

"It's hard sometimes when you watch the clock dwindle down. You think 'I know I can make things happen,"' said O'Neal, the 10th of 10 Trail Blazers to get into the game. "But there's a lot of talent on this team."

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  • Steve Smith scored 23 and Scottie Pippen added 19, hitting a 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left in the third period to give the Blazers a lead they never lost. That's because O'Neal scored Portland's first seven points of the fourth quarter, and pulled down five of his six offensive rebounds in the final period as well.

    "We went to Jermaine and said, 'Go in there and give us some energy on the glass,"' Portland coach Mike Dunleavy said. "He gave us some energy and did some good things off the boards."

    With their eighth victory in nine games, the Blazers improved to 36-11 the best record in the NBA, one-half game ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers.

    "We felt like we should win this game hands-down," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce, who was just 6-for-14 from the floor and 3-for 6 from the line. "They're the premier team in the league, but we felt we should have won. We just let it slip away."

    Vitaly Potapenko scored 19 for Boston and Kenny Anderson had 11 with 10 assists. Antoine Walker had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, but shot just 5-of-16 shots and missed three of six free throws.

    The Blazers took a 71-70 lead into the fourth quarter before O'Neal opened the fourth with two offensive rebounds and a fourth-chance dunk. He then answered Tony Battie's jumper with a dunk off an alley-oop to make it 75-72 with 10:41 left in the game.

    After Danny Fortson made two free throws for Boston, O'Neal's layup and free throw gave the Blazers a 78-74 lead.

    Portland protected its lead until Boston made a weak charge in the final minutes.

    Walker hit a running one-hander to make it 92-88 with 1:43 left. After Pippen made a 3-pointer from the top of the key his only basket of the fourth quarter Walker made another 3 to keep the lead at four points.

    Portland made three of four free throws down the stretch to clinch it.


  • Smith was given a technical foul for yelling, at no one in particular, in the third quarter. Brian Grant got one a few minutes later for getting in Walter McCarty's face. A few minutes later, Walker got one after he fouled Smith.
  • Portland went 6:48 without a field goal in the second quarter.
  • The game marked the 30th anniversary of the NBA Board of Governors' vote to allow an expansion franchise in Portland.
  • The Blazers are 31-2 when leading after three quarters.

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