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Friday, May 21, 1999

Rider saddles Jazz with 84-81 loss

AP Sports Writer
SALT LAKE CITY -- One of the biggest knocks on the Portland Trail Blazers this season has been their lack of a consistent scorer who can get that crucial basket with the game on the line.

On Thursday night, Isaiah Rider filled the role nicely -- with a little help from his brothers.

Portland beat the Utah Jazz 84-81, but the Blazers couldn't exhale until John Stockton's layup with two seconds to play went in and out. Rider scored six straight points in the game's final 1:39 as the Blazers barely held off a frantic Jazz rally and evened the second-round playoff series at 1-1.

The notoriously unstable Rider has been a steadying force for Portland during the playoffs. He averaged a team-high 20 points in the Blazers' first-round sweep of Phoenix, but in Portland's 93-83 loss in Game 1, he was held to 12.

``My brothers called me and let me know, `Hey, that was terrible. All you're doing is shooting 3-pointers,''' Rider said. ``They keep an eye on how I'm playing, and they keep me focused sometimes. I have good brothers.''

Rider scored 21 of his 27 points in the second half, beating the Jazz with his outside shot and an array of post-up moves against Jeff Hornacek and Shandon Anderson.

``They had Hornacek and Anderson on him, and he's stronger than both of them,'' Portland's Rasheed Wallace said. ``We made sure he had a chance to score.''

In the night's other game, the New York Knicks defeated Atlanta 77-70 to take a 2-0 lead over the Hawks.

Tonight's game features the Philadelphia 76ers returning to their home court trying to avoid falling behind 3-0 in their series against Indiana.

Hornacek's jumper with 1:58 to play cut Portland's lead to 76-73, and on the next three possessions, the Blazers went straight to Rider. He was fouled the first two times, and he made all four free throws with the raucous Delta Center crowd screaming in his face.

``It doesn't matter about those balloons and those fans,'' Rider said. ``If it didn't look cocky, I'd be smiling when I shoot those free throws. That's my favorite time.''

Stockton's 3-pointer cut the lead to 80-78 with 37 seconds left, but the Blazers found Rider in the low post, and he turned and made a layup with Hornacek hanging all over him.

``Those are shots we need,'' said Rider, who was 4-of-6 on 3-pointers. ``That was my responsibility, and I just tried not to let the guys down.''

But the Jazz still weren't done. Hornacek hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left, pulling Utah to 82-81. Greg Anthony made one of two free throws, setting the Jazz up for a final shot.

Stockton, who has scored most of the biggest last-second points in Jazz playoff history, was the natural choice to take the final shot. He drove the lane and drew contact with Jim Jackson, but the ball went in and out.

``I should have made it,'' Stockton said. ``I had an opportunity to win it, and didn't. ... That was a pretty darn good look at the end of a game. I just didn't finish it.''

Anthony made another free throw, and Bryon Russell's full-court heave at the buzzer missed.

The strange game also featured the lowest-scoring first half in playoff history and impressive performances from two of the game's best power forwards, Brian Grant and Karl Malone.

``Both teams just played their hearts out,'' Portland coach Mike Dunleavy said. ``We were lucky to come out with it, because both teams had a really good shot.''

The game's exciting conclusion belied an atrocious first half in which Portland and Utah set the NBA playoff records for the fewest combined points in a first quarter and tied the record for fewest points in a first half. The teams shot a combined 28 percent from the field and made 16 turnovers on the way to Portland's 32-31 halftime lead.

The Blazers had a 15-0 third-quarter run, holding Utah scoreless for nearly five minutes. In the fourth, Anderson's three-point play tied the game at 64-64 with 6:58 to play, but Portland made a 9-0 run in the next 1:45, capped by Wallace's layup with 5:13 left.

``There were whole stretches of the game when we just turned the ball over for no particular reason,'' Stockton said.

Knicks 77, Hawks 70

Latrell Sprewell scored 31 points for the second straight game for New York at Atlanta.

After winning both games at the Georgia Dome, the Knicks are heading home with a chance to sweep the series. Game 3 is Sunday at Madison Square Garden, with Game 4 the following night.

``It's been great,'' said Sprewell, who was suspended most of last season after choking his former coach, P.J. Carlesimo. ``Back then, I didn't think I would be in this position. It's nice to win in the playoffs. I've not experienced that before. I hope it continues.''

Marcus Camby added 11 points, 13 rebounds and one resounding dunk over Dikembe Mutombo.

``Everything is clicking now, especially the transition game. We're getting a lot of easy baskets, and I haven't seen that in a New York team since I've been watching. The roles are definitely changing,'' Camby said.

Sprewell provided 10 of New York's 23 points in the final period, including a three-point play with 5:45 remaining that pushed the lead to 69-58. The Hawks never got closer than five the rest of the way.

Steve Smith, the Hawks' leading scorer, was held to 2-of-16 shooting and nine points.

Swim lesson sign-ups Monday

PECOS, May 21 -- The final day to pre-register for Pecos-Barstow-Toyah summer learn-to-swim classes will be this Monday at the Pecos High School swimming pool.

Sign-ups will be from 4:30 to 6 p.m. with a registration fee of $25 per student. For further information, call PHS swimming coach Terri Morse at 447-7242.

Registration for other P-B-T summer athletic programs will be held after the end of schoo, beginning the week of May 31. Other programs include track, tennis, golf, volleyball, basketball and weight training.

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