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Sunday, May 4
Updated: May 4, 5:57 PM ET
Blazers' run at Dallas left them feeling better

Associated Press

DALLAS -- As the Portland Trail Blazers huddled up for their final timeout, coach Maurice Cheeks and Scottie Pippen remained outside the circle for a moment to exchange glances and hand slaps.

"It was just an expression that we gave it our best shot, we can't ask for anything more,'' said Pippen, the six-time NBA champion.

Even though the Trail Blazers were heading home for the summer after their 107-95 loss Sunday to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7, Portland had forced the deciding game in the first-round Western Conference playoff series with three straight wins after losing the first three games.

After Pippen's 3-pointer tied Game 7 at 93 with 3:08 left, Portland didn't make another field goal.

Still, it was an incredible effort for the Trail Blazers just to get that far.

Only two other NBA teams had even stretched a series to seven games after losing the first three. In the major pro team sports, such a comeback has been completed only twice, both in hockey.

"It's disappointing any time you lose a game, but I'm happy in spirit that we even gave ourselves an opportunity to be in this position,'' said Pippen, 37. "We could have packed it in a week and a half ago and taken our fourth lick and been on vacation. But we showed a lot of character and pride in just bouncing back. It made the season fun.''

Pippen, who won his six championships with the Chicago Bulls, isn't sure what his future holds. About to become a free agent, he's not sure if he will return for a fifth season with the Blazers or even play again.

Pippen had knee surgery in March and missed three games of the series because of soreness in the knee. The 16-year veteran said he wants to get away from basketball and get healthy before making any decisions.

Actually, the makeup of the entire team is uncertain.

Blazers owner Paul Allen said before the playoffs that offseason changes were coming, primarily to clean up the team's off-court problems. His plans may change after seeing how his combustible roster responded under these circumstances.

"We showed a lot of character and a lot of heart. Hopefully, we can keep this thing together,'' said guard Bonzi Wells.

"The last five or six days have been fun. I think it showed a lot about this team, the heart we have,'' said Damon Stoudamire, who had five 3-pointers and 17 points in the finale. "Headed into the future, there are things to look forward to as opposed to last week if we had lost 4-0.''

After losing the first three games of the series, the Blazers had lost 10 straight playoff games dating to 2000 and were on the verge of getting swept in the first round for the fourth time in five years.

Portland's rally began with a huge third quarter in Game 4, leading to a 98-79 win. The Blazers didn't lead in Game 5 until the final 65 seconds, then tied the series with a 22-point win in Game 6.

"No question, we hate to lose that series, but it was a heck of a series,'' Cheeks said.
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