Wallace, Clips' Brand sit out Blazers' victory


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Scottie Pippen rested at the right time.

Pippen didn't play in Portland's game against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night because of a sore knee, and was day-to-day Friday night for the Los Angeles Clippers.

But with star forward Rasheed Wallace out, the Trail Blazers needed Pippen and he responded with 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as the Blazers fought off the Clippers 109-103.

"I just wanted to play aggressive after I had a day of rest,'' Pippen said. "I felt good and my legs felt good.''

Zach Randolph added 21 points and 12 rebounds starting in place of Wallace, who didn't play because of a sore left Achilles tendon.

The Blazers have won five straight against the Clippers. Los
Angeles, playing for a second game without injured star forward
Elton Brand, has lost four straight.

The two teams went back and forth until late in the game, when
the Blazers went up 95-92 on Pippen's layup and free throw with
4:30 left. The lead was short-lived, however, as the Clippers came
back to tie it at 97 on a jumper on a jumper by Corey Maggette.

With Wallace cheering wildly from the bench, Pippen answered with a jumper and Ruben Patterson's tip-in gave the Blazers a 101-97 lead with 1:38 left.

After Andre Miller scored for the Clippers, Pippen made a
21-foot jumper and Randolph made a 16-footer to put the lead at
105-99 and the Blazers led the rest of the way for their third
straight win.

Lamar Odom led the Clippers with 23 points, while Maggette added
21 and Miller had 20. Los Angeles did not make any of its 11
3-point attempts.

During the first half it looked as though coach Maurice Cheeks
might use Pippen sparingly.

With the Blazers down 30-26, a young Portland fan pleaded for
Pippen's return, yelling 'Put Scottie in!'

"At this point of the season, you've got to watch the minutes
building up on a 37-year-old,'' Cheeks said. "I tried to manage
that tonight to keep his stamina up, and I thought when he came
back in the fourth quarter, he was fresh and had a lot of energy.''

Brand missed his second straight game with a bruised lower left
leg. He was injured with about three minutes left in Tuesday
night's loss to the Lakers when he fell while trying to defend Shaquille O'Neal.

Cherokee Parks took his place in the lineup.

"It's like taking Rasheed out of your lineup,'' Clippers coach Alvin Gentry said about missing Brand. "They are both great players and they both mean a lot to their teams.

"It's 19 points and 12 rebounds out of our lineup, and the guy
who has been the No. 1 shot blocker in the league for most of the
year. So it hurts.''

Wallace, Portland's leading scorer, had not missed a start
because of injury this season. He was suspended by the NBA for
seven games because of an altercation with a referee following
Portland's Jan. 15 win at home over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Portland led by as many as nine points in the first quarter, but
then the injuries and absences took a toll.

The Blazers fell behind 24-22 as the first quarter wound down.
They struggled to reclaim a lead -- punctuated by Antonio Daniels'
attempt at a fast-break slam that was deftly blocked by Miller and
prevented Portland from building on a 44-43 advantage.

The Clippers went on to lead 49-48 at that half.

Game notes
Brand's status for Saturday's game against the Seattle
SuperSonics was uncertain. ... The Clippers' last victory at the
Rose Garden came on April 11, 1999. ... The Blazers have won 19 of
their last 20 at home against the Clippers. "I don't think it is
the Rose Garden,'' Gentry said. "I think it is the team that plays