Blazers Win On Last Shot


Doc Rivers half-jokingly referred to Orlando's matchup with the talented Portland Trail Blazers as "the Dream Team against Uruguay."

"On paper they should have won by 40. Fortunately, you have to play the game," the first-year coach said after Rasheed Wallace's turnaround, 10-foot jumper with 1.3 seconds left gave the Blazers an 81-79 victory Wednesday night.

"You look at them, and look at us, and think about moral victories," Rivers added. "But that's not what we're selling."

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  • Wallace, who had 13 points and 11 rebounds, sealed the victory when he stole an inbounds pass on Orlando's final possession. Arvydas Sabonis also was a key, hitting a crucial 3-pointer to help Portland win at Orlando Arena for the first time since January 1992 and improve the NBA's best record to 8-1.

    Sabonis finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Steve Smith and Damon Stoudamire also scored 11 for Portland, which is off to its best start since the 1992-93 season.

    Chris Gatling led Orlando with 21 points, but missed a baseline jumper that would have put the Magic ahead in the final minute. Scottie Pippen rebounded the miss with 21.7 seconds left, and the Blazers called timeout and set up the winning play. Wallace hit his shot over Ben Wallace and Tariq Abdul-Wahad.

    "It was just a regular postup shot," Rasheed Wallace said. "That's all. Nothing too spectcular."

    Orlando squandered its last opportunity when Monty Williams' inbounds pass, intended for Gatling, was stolen. But Rivers said he couldn't fault his team's play in the closing seconds.

    "We made them take the exact shot we wanted," the Orlando coach said. "The difference is they made their fadeaway, and we didn't."

    The Magic led 45-38 at the half, despite shooting 35 percent. Gatling was the reason, coming off the bench to make all six of his shots from the field and going 5-for-5 from the foul line to score 17 points.

    The Blazers, coming off a victory over Miami in a matchup of the teams with the league's best records the previous night, missed eight of their first 11 shots and didn't recover until Sabonis made his clutch 3-pointer and Smith followed with a layup to give Portland its first lead, 77-76, with just under three minutes to go.

    Pippen, who was not on the floor for the play that produced the winning basket, scored nine points on 4-of-12 shooting. Darrell Armstrong had 13 points for Orlando, but only made 3 of 12 shots.

    "We just gutted it out," said Pippen, who wasn't included in the winning play because he hadn't been shooting well. "You have to give credit to Orlando. I think Doc is doing a real good job, keeping those guys inspired and making them work hard."

    Notes

  • Brian Grant, activated before Tuesday night's win at Miami, saw his first action of the season after sitting out the Blazers' first eight games while recovering from July 1 surgery on his left knee. He played six minutes and had three points
  • Orlando's Matt Harpring, placed on the injured list Monday with a torn tendon in his left ankle, is expected to be sidelined three to five months
  • The victory was Portland's first at Orlando Arena since Jan. 7, 1992, snapping a six-game losing streak
  • Williams made his first start of the season for Orlando, replacing Bo Outlaw
  • Armstrong and Ben Wallace each had 10 rebounds for Orlando, which shot 34 percent.

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